Simple Recognition Is Sometimes the Best Reward

Rather than receiving a finder’s fee, for most referral sources  it is more important to be recognized as a person who can direct others to the goods and services provided by skilled, highly competent, trustworthy people.

Over the years I’ve witnessed time and again that most people will do more for simple recognition than for money. However, for those who expect a finder’s fee, this is a good thing to know in advance if you want to keep the relationship healthy, active and profitable.

You will find that different motivators will inspire different members of your referral team, and this is a matter in which understanding the various behavioral styles of people can be helpful.

People who are embarrassed by being in the spotlight, even for accolades and applause, might prefer their rewards low-key and private–perhaps a simple thank you or an evening cruise on your boat if you are a boat owner.  Those who like public recognition might prefer seeing their name showcased on your bulletin board.  Still others may be more highly motivated by an inexpensive but thoughtful gift than by a more substantial cash reward–a bottle of wine from a winery near their hometown or a coffee table book about their favorite travel destination.

The point is, simple recognition really resonates with most people and, more often than not, simply recognizing people in the way they prefer to be recognized is a far better reward and incentive for them to refer you to others than offering them a cash finder’s fee.

If you’re in the habit of recognizing people as a way of thanking them for referrals, please leave a comment about what’s worked for you and even what hasn’t.  Then check back next week to read my story about a way in which someone recognized me that kept me motivated to refer that person over and over again!

Business Relationships That Last

We all know that businesses grow through lasting relationships. There’s a book called Businesses Relationships That Last that gives some very simple, yet powerful advice on how to think about and build relationships that last.

The author of the book is  a colleague of mine named Ed Wallace, who has more than 25 years of experience being a No. 1 sales producer and vice president of business development for a firm that grew from $1 million to more than $120 million in revenue.  After achieving such significant success over the course of his career, he has concluded that creating outstanding relationships is, hands down, the true secret to success and Business Relationships That Last clearly and simply illustrates Ed’s proven, relationship-building principles.

The book outlines five steps to transform contacts into high-performing relationships and uses some pretty interesting real-life stories, examples and insights gathered from Ed’s success as a sales leader.  It’s a step-by-step program specifically designed to advance business relationships and, in my opinion, it’s a book that every serious networker should add to his or her library.

To find out more about Business Relationships That Last or to purchase the book, CLICK HERE.

Ask Me A Question . . . C’mon, Any Question!

OK, wait, let me rephrase that . . . ask me any business networking question–not just any question. If you’re thinking along the lines of embarrassing moments and possible blackmail material, then you’re out of luck on this one ( Sorry, I’ve still got disclaimers on the brain after my blog about the legal system! :))

Anyway, I’m happy to announce that AskIvanMisner.com is now live, and this is your chance to ask me any question you have about how to build your personal and professional network.

On the third Tuesday of each month, beginning on Nov. 17 (10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern), I’ll be conducting a FREE, live teleseminar, co-hosted by my friend Alex Mandossian, where I’ll answer a handful of questions selected from those submitted on AskIvanMisner.com.

I’m encouraging anyone and everyone to log on and submit a question for me. You’ll be given the call-in number once you’ve submitted your question, and it’s perfectly fine with me if you invite any of your friends and/or business colleagues to join the FREE calls as well.

I’m looking forward to reading your questions, so log onto AskIvanMisner.com now and ask away!

The Nature of a Referral Relationship

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

The Secret to Balance

Do you have balance in your life?  Personal and professional balance in our lives seems to be the ever-elusive dream for many of us.  Trying to balance home, work, health, spirituality and free time seems almost impossible.  It is something that businesspeople have told me for years.

Well, I am pleased to tell you that I believe I’ve found the answer to creating balance in your life.   Are you ready?  Write this down. Here it is:  Forget about balance, you’ll never have it!

I can hear you now . . . “What?!  No balance?!? That can’t be!  It’s just not right!” But wait . . . there IS good news.  Although I don’t think balance is possible, I do believe you can create harmony in your life.  This differentiation is more than just semantics.  It is a critical approach to looking at life that can free you up to see the world in a different way.

“Balance” assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life.  It is like the image of the scales (see the picture at right) where everything is completely in balance and equal.  It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.

Well, the problem with that is that almost no one can really achieve that.  Especially entrepreneurs, professionals and salespeople.  We tend to live such hectic, busy lives that it is incredibly difficult to fit it all in.  Women often tell me that this issue is an even bigger problem for them.

So what do we do about this?  For me, it’s about creating harmony.  Just look at the image representing harmony  in this blog (see the yin yang symbol at right).  Even the image is lopsided when you look at one aspect at a time.  But it is the whole that feels complete.  This is a way to look at the issue that has personally worked for me.  Sometimes I work crazy, long hours for several days in a row.  Or I may be on the road traveling for business for many days at a time.  On the other hand, I am a husband and a father.  I need and want to be there for my family as well as have time for myself.  Long ago I figured out that daily balance is almost impossible.  But I found I could create harmony using a few core principles.

First, three simple words make a big difference to me: “Be here now.” Wherever you are, be there.  If you are at work, don’t think about the time you did not spend with the family the night before or what you should be doing with you significant other right now.  When you are at home, don’t think about the work you have to do at the office.  Wherever you are, be there . . . fully and completely.

Second, make sure to set aside time to do all the things that are truly important in your life. Yeah, I know everyone says that, but here’s my twist:  Be creative about how you manage this. For example, when I wrote my first book I didn’t want to be holed up in my office writing in the evening and not be available to my family.  I found a creative way to find that time that was in harmony with my family time.  A few evenings a month, I’d stay up with the family, put everyone to bed and then go into my office and start writing at 11 p.m. and work almost all night on my manuscript.  I’d catch a few hours of sleep and get into the office a little late to start my day.  I’m a late-night person and this worked for me.  It may not work for you.  However, my point is to be creative and inventive in finding ways YOU can accomplish what you need to do, yet still allow yourself to spend time doing the other things in your life that bring you harmony.  Nothing pleased me more than when I showed my children the book when it was published and they said to me . . . “When did you write that?!” They had no idea I was up late working several times a month.  That was harmony to me!

Third, find ways to integrate various elements of your life. For many years, I have spent weeks at a time up at my lake home in the mountains.  Each year, I spend a week or two working from the lake house remotely.  Now I bring up my staff and management team for short retreat/workdays.  It is a great way to combine my work life into a leisure environment.   Then, the last week or so, I take off COMPLETELY and spend time with my family.  By integrating my two worlds, I create a sense of harmony.

Last, remember this: when you are 70 years old, you are not going to wish you spent more time at the office. You don’t need to be a workaholic to be successful.

Focus on creating harmony in your life.  Be creative.  Don’t try to do the things I do or that someone else does.  Find ideas that work for you and the life you live.  Make the time to do the things that are important to you and be innovative.  Harmony is created where harmony is sought.  OK, that’s a bit “new age” sounding . . . but it is true.

I’m very interested to hear what you think of this approach and/or what do you do to create balance in your life.  Leave a comment and let me, and others reading this blog, know what has worked for you.

Networking and the Sexes Survey–Last Chance to Participate!

Have you ever wondered if men and women approach networking differently?

Well, I have. I’m actually in the process of gathering information to write a book about it with my friends Frank DeRaffele and Hazel Walker. A huge part of the book is going to be based on the findings of a survey we’re currently conducting. It’s the most comprehensive survey on gender and networking ever conducted, and we currently have 7,800 responses–which means we’re almost to our target of 8,000-10,000 responses!

The online survey only takes a few minutes, and I’d love to hear your opinions on Networking and the Sexes before the survey closes. You can rest assured that your opinions and comments are greatly appreciated and will be kept completely confidential; however, if you’d like to come back and leave a comment about what you thought of the survey, I’d be really interested to hear what you have to say!

If you live in Africa or South America, we especially need responses from people in those countries, so I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a few moments to participate and encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to participate as well.

CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO JOIN THE SURVEY NOW: http://www.SurveyMonkey.Com/s.asp?u=204762616512

Thanks!

5 Laws and 5 Flaws of Conversation from ‘The Mingling Maven’

My good friend Susan RoAne recently joined me as a fellow member of the iLearningGlobal.tv faculty and, as I was talking to her about the content she plans to contribute to the iLearningGlobal.tv website, I was suddenly struck with the memory of a great section from her book, How to Work a Room, which talks about casual conversation when networking.

If you have a chance to read the book, I highly recommend it because there are tons of great networking tips throughout the entire book. Not only will you get a great education on networking, you’ll be laughing from beginning to end. That’s one thing anyone who has met Susan knows about her–she’s hilarious!

However, since my blog isn’t supposed to be about my friend Susan’s witty sense of humor (Maybe I’ll start a blog devoted to that later . . . kidding, Susan! :)) and it IS supposed to be about helping you become a better networker, I’ll go ahead and let the excerpt from How to Work a Room which I’ve been alluding to tell you about the five laws and five flaws of conversation:

Five Fundamental Laws of Casual Conversation

  • Be a conversational chameleon. Adapt conversation to the individual by age, interest, profession.
  • Be a name dropper. Always mention the names of people or places you could have in common.
  • Borrow other people’s lives. Share the stories, comments and quips of your friends who have kids, have websites, are tai kwon do students, are Xtreme athletes, have opera tickets–even if you don’t.
  • Be a two-timer. Give people a second chance.
  • Be nice to everyone. Don’t judge tomorrow’s book by today’s cover.

Fatal Flaws of Casual Conversation

  • Being unprepared by not reading papers, trade journals and information sources
  • Controlling conversations by asking a barrage of questions, no matter how open-ended, or telling a nonstop series of jokes
  • Complaining (kvetching); bragging
  • One-upping/competing, interrupting, not listening, slinging put-downs
  • Offering unsolicited feedback

Have a Good Story… Share It!

Before television there was radio. Before radio there were books. And before books there were storytellers. No matter what the medium–stone tablets, movies, grocery store tabloids, the internet–the story is central.

A good story stays with people and compels them to share it with others. It’s as true today as it was 2000 years ago–and it’s especially true of success stories. Everyone likes to hear them; everyone likes to have one. Do you see how this aligns perfectly with word-of-mouth marketing, where referrals are based on thousands of individual success stories? You see, every time one networker passes a referral to another, she is telling a story about a need fulfilled successfully or a problem solved effectively.

You can empower your network by writing down success stories about your business so that they won’t be forgotten and they can be told to other people. You also want to encourage your networking partners to swap stories with you so you can each keep the stories on file and use them to help find and refer great business opportunities to each other.

The key is to capture a truly compelling story–one that practically begs to be shared, one that the people in your network would actually have trouble keeping to themselves. The anatomy of a successful word-of-mouth story about your business is quite simple. It has a captivating beginning, an action-packed middle and a happy ending (and, conveniently, it will in most cases naturally outline for your referral partners what your perfect customer looks like). If you’re expecting other people to act on your story and share it, it must be a compelling story–and must have a positive outcome.

Chances are you have several great success stories about your business but, if not several, I’m sure you have at least one. So to start with, I’d like to challenge you to write down your business’s most compelling success story, ask at least one person on your word-of-mouth marketing team to do the same, and then share your stories with each other.

The more stories you share with other people, the more high-quality referrals you’ll get and the more success stories you’ll generate as you continue to network your business.

‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is Not Enough

When it comes to networking, practice alone is not enough. It must be effective practice.  Just showing up at meetings and going through the motions will not improve your networking or your business.

In martial arts, the sensei (master) says, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” In other words, if you’re just going through the motions, you’re not learning and growing. Every time you do a kata (a system of basic body positioning and movement exercises in karate), you must do it as though you were in a tournament, or as though the sensei were there watching you. Only with that intensity of focus does one improve. The same applies to your networking efforts. If you’re applying the techniques halfheartedly, you’ll get less-than-acceptable results.

Practicing the skills necessary to become a good networker is important. But would-be networkers cannot expect to become master networkers  just by going through the motions. Take, for instance, the 60-second presentation or brief commercial you make every week when you attend many types of networking groups or various other organizations.  Most people come to the meeting unprepared and unrehearsed, with only a vague idea of what they will talk about. While others give their presentations, instead of listening, they’re thinking about how to say what they need to say. When their turn comes, they stumble through an amateurish, marginal presentation. Yes, they practiced, but it was far from perfect practice, and the results prove it.

If you’re a teacher, do you wing your lesson plan? The better teachers set goals and objectives for what they want their students to learn. They spend time planning exactly what they are going to cover in class, sometimes down to the exact wording, and they prepare visual aids and handouts that reinforce the subject matter and facilitate learning.

As a businessperson, you should have similar goals and objectives: What, exactly, do you want your listeners to learn about your business that they can pass along to prospects for a possible referral? If you’re vague about your lesson plan, if you’re unprepared to stand and deliver, your potential referral partners are going to leave the meeting without a clear idea of how to refer you. And you need to practice delivering your message. Standing up and winging it is not going to get you what you want. You have to practice it perfectly if your goal is perfection.

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