‘Networking Like A Pro’–5 Questions to Leave a Lasting Impression

My latest book, Networking Like A Pro: Turning Contacts Into Connections, which I co-authored with David Alexander, has officially been released–and it hit No. 1 on the Amazon.com Bestsellers list last week!NetworkingLikeAPro--Book Cover

Here is a brief peek at the kind of information we offer in Networking Like A Pro:

FIVE QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU LEAVE A LASTING IMPRESSION

1. “What Do You Like Best about What You Do?” This leads to more interesting conversation about the other person’s business, his likes and dislikes, his experience and so forth.  This is a much better alternative than simply asking, “What do you do?” which doesn’t leave much room to maneuver after each networker has answered the question.

2. “You Mentioned that You Were in [Industry].  What Got You Started in that Direction?” This gives the other person a chance to talk about personal goals and desires and to look favorably on the asker.  It also gives insight into how dedicated she is to her profession and how proficient she may be at it.

3. “Where Else Do You Usually Network?” This helps break the ice during that awkward period just after introductions and offers the chance to talk about something common to both parties, creating an opportunity to make an instant connection.

4. “What Are Some of Your Biggest Challenges?” This can be used toward the end of the conversation.  It allows the opportunity to learn about the other party’s reasons, passion and motivation for being in her specific business in the first place.

5) “How Can I Help You?” If you decide the person you’re talking with is someone you’d like to have in your network, this is a good question to ask.  Being helpful is the best way to start building a solid relationship.

CLICK HERE to find out more about Networking Like A Pro and/or to purchase a copy.

Passing People By Can Mean Missed Opportunity

A good friend of mine, Patti Salvucci, runs dozens of networking groups in the Boston area.  A while back, Patti was visiting one of the groups she oversees, and she made an unlikely and very remarkable connection.  This is one powerful story . . .

A true master networker, Patti arrived early for the networking meeting in the private meeting room at Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox.  She noticed an older gentleman setting up coffee mugs for the meeting and when she struck up a conversation with him, she was extremely impressed by the tenor of his voice. She asked him what he had done before he retired.

He told her he’d been a commentator for CNN but had decided to find less hectic work and move closer to his daughter.  He now managed the owner’s suite at Fenway and enjoyed reminiscing about the famous people he’d met while in the radio business: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela and others.  Patti was astounded.

Later, when the meeting was in full swing, one member, Don, announced that he would like to do a radio talk show someday and was looking for contacts who could help him pursue that dream.  After the meeting, Patti directed Don’s attention to the gentleman in the  back of the room and told him that the man used to be a commentator on the radio.  Don was flabbergasted.  It was better than any contact he could’ve expected, and it happened at the very meeting in which he asked for it.

The irony was that Don had seen the man on many occasions, but it had never occurred to him to strike up a conversation. After all, the man obviously had little in common with him.  What could he possibly have to offer? . . . Obviously, a lot. 😉

This story is a great lesson to all of us that we really don’t know whom we could be standing next to on a daily basis and that taking the time to find out a little bit about the people we cross paths with can bring great rewards.

AskIvanMisner.Com–What’s Your Question?

If you haven’t yet visited AskIvanMisner.com, now is the time to log on and let me know what’s on your mind!  Ask me any question you have about how to build your personal and professional network, and your question might be one of the questions I answer on the upcoming Feb. 16 Ask Ivan Misner Teleseminar!

If you’re not familiar with AskIvanMisner.com or with the accompanying teleseminars, let me explain.  On the third Tuesday of each month, I conduct a FREE teleseminar, co-hosted by my friend Alex Mandossian, where I answer a handful of questions selected from those submitted on AskIvanMisner.com.

I encourage everyone to log on (to the AskIvanMisner.com website) and submit a question for me because the more of you who ask questions, the better idea I get about what kind of networking information most people are genuinely in need of.  Subsequently, this allows me to host the “Ask Ivan” calls and write blogs, articles and books that give information that specifically applies to your business and networking needs.

Once you’ve submitted your question, you’ll be given the call-in number for the next call.  Also, please note that 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!

Haiti Earthquake Relief Effort

Master networkers know that genuinely helping people is a huge part of networking because building social capital is key, and master networkers know the importance of giving.

This is exactly why I founded my international networking organization, BNI, on the philosophy that Givers Gain–meaning, if I help you build your business and accomplish your goals, you’ll naturally want to do the same for me.  Sometimes, however, situations occur that call on all of us to help–situations that are bigger than business, bigger than building social capital and bigger than networking.

One of these situations occured at 2:14 p.m. (PST) on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010 when a 7.0 earthquake struck in Haiti. On behalf of my entire organization, I would like to express our sincere sorrow to the people of Haiti who have been afflicted by this disaster.  As a result, BNI’s nonprofit charitable foundation has opened up the Haiti Earthquake Relief Fund and the BNI Foundation will match the first $10,000 USD donated to the relief effort.  This means that every dollar you give is worth $2 for the cause.

All monies donated through the BNI-Misner Foundation will go directly to the Red Cross, which has mobilized many resources, doctors and nurses to the devastated area.  Donations to the Haiti Relief Fund can be made to the BNI Foundation via the foundation’s secure credit card donation site by CLICKING HERE and writing “Haiti Relief Fund” in the comment field of the online donation form.

I applaud anybody and everybody who would like to join BNI and myself in contributing to the effort to aid the survivors of this tragedy.  Even if you cannot donate, simply passing this information along to all those in your network is a great way to contribute your help!

(Please Note–Donations are tax-free contributions for residents of the United States.  If you are a non-U.S. resident, you can check with your CPA or accountant for guidelines.)

Entrepreneur Magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference

Entrepreneur magazine’s Growth 2.0 Conference is being held in Miami Beach, Fla., on January 26. If it’s geographically possible for you to attend, I strongly encourage you to go.  The event is bursting with educational value, opportunities to network and–get ready for this —registration is FREE!

If you can make it out to the conference, I’d love to have the opportunity to meet you. So please take a moment to introduce yourself during one of the conference’s networking sessions or after my presentation.  I’ll be giving a presentation on Networking Like a Pro, which will explain how to create, maintain and serve a wide network and enjoy great business and personal rewards as a result.

The Growth 2.0 Conference will focus on showing you how to take advantage of the epic economic opportunities that we all have in front of us and how this economy that we’re in right now can work for your business.

There will also be presentations given by some of today’s top business authors and visionaries, including Jay Conrad Levinson, and there will be a one-of-a-kind opportunity for you to pitch your business to Entrepreneur’s editors for a chance to have your business featured in either Entrepreneur magazine or on Entrepreneur.com (Now that is a great opportunity!).

Hope to see you at the event!

CLICK HERE to register for free or to get more information on Growth 2.0.

To watch a video of highlights from the last Growth 2.0 Conference in 2008, click here.

Building Networking Skills–Part 2

Last week I promised I’d write a blog this week continuing the discussion on building networking skills.  So, as promised, in this blog I’ll be explaining a little bit about a few things you should do once you’ve given some thought to your networking strengths and weaknesses.

As you read through these tips, think about ways you can develop these ideas into a networking strategy that makes the most of your strengths and helps you work on your weaknesses.

1. Become the host.

Whether you’ve scored yourself strongly in the area of being naturally outgoing or not, it will serve you well to volunteer to be an ambassador or visitor host for a local business networking event because it makes the networking process markedly easier–especially for those who consider themselves a bit introverted.

When you’re the host, your purpose is to make sure everybody is comfortable and you’re too busy fulfilling that purpose to stand by yourself in the corner, worrying about how much you hate meeting new people.  Try it!  You’ll find it much easier to meet and talk to new people.

2.  Build your social capital at your desk

Thanks to technology’s continuing advances, you can also network without ever leaving your desk–online networking is an effective way to connect with potential clients and referral sources, and it can help you get more used to making connections and networking.  This is one opportunity that absolutely everyone should utilize.

Keep in mind that it’s usually better to use online networking with people only after you’ve established a relationship with them by traditional means.  To develop trust, respect and true friendship, it’s hard to beat in-person conversation and the occasional handshake or pat on the shoulder.

3.  Offer advice to break the ice

Even if you haven’t had much practice networking, you’ll be great at breaking the ice in person or online by offering some free professional advice.  Everybody wants to connect with people who can provide value to them. By offering knowledge that people can use, you make yourself a valuable connection.

For example, if you’re a marketing consultant, give your fellow networkers a couple of ideas on how they can increase the exposure of their business.  Don’t go overboard; maybe share a technique you read in a magazine or tried with one of your clients.  When it comes to building rapport and trust, few things do it better than solid, helpful information provided out of genuine concern for the other person.

4.  Become a trusted source for quality referrals and contacts

One way to ease into networking is to provide a referral or contact.  This could be a direct referral (someone you know who’s in the market for another person’s services) or a solid contact (someone who might be helpful down the road).

If you’re not sure what will come of the contact, simply state that right upfront, but then follow it up by saying that you think the connection could be helpful and briefly describe how.  Doing this when networking is a great way to establish yourself as a great referral source.

Use these tips to help you start developing a networking strategy that plays up your strengths and lets you work on your weaknesses. Feel free to come back and comment about your ideas and/or experiences.

 

Outside the Cave, Into a Network

Social capital works for everybody, not just people who set out purposefully to become networkers. A colleague of mine works in a profession–writing and editing–that entails a minimum of day-to-day interaction with others. He handles a limited number of projects, usually no more than two or three books at a time, and works long hours and days in isolation.  He surfaces occasionally to communicate with an author or publisher about details. You might say he works in a cave with only a few air holes.

How does a cave dweller build social capital? This particular editor, feeling the isolation, crawled out of his cave one day and went looking for company. He joined a small band of writers forming a professional organization. Energized, he joined their efforts to build the organization, attract new members, publish a newsletter, schedule presentations and speakers, arrange conferences with editors and agents, and even throw a few parties to lure other writers out of their caves. All of this work was done by volunteers who got a kick out of building a service organization that would help writers network with one another and achieve success.

The organization grew and became the largest writers’ networking organization in the nation. While this was happening, my friend the editor made several new friends among the organization’s founding members. One of them told him of a job opening that turned into a 12-year-long salaried position; this gave him the steady income he needed to support his family. Another friend, a low-volume publisher of high-quality books, gave him several editing projects and, after his salaried job ended, gave him a full schedule of freelance work.

Many of the authors this publisher referred to the editor returned again and again with other projects for other publishers. One of these writers was . . . me, author of more than a dozen books, most of which I have worked on with the same cave-dwelling editor.

Although the editor didn’t know it when he began this low-key form of networking, he was building social capital when he thought he was only having fun. Over the years, the interest on this social capital began flowing back to him in many different forms, with no direct connection to the benefits he had helped provide to other writers.

As you can see, venturing out of your cave can bring invaluable gains in social capital. It’s well worth the effort, especially if the nature of your job finds you working mostly alone.  Follow the lead of my editor friend, and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Building Networking Skills–Part 1: Identify Your Strengths

What I’m about to share with you is a very simple, yet very often overlooked networking step.

I’ve witnessed a lot of people jump straight into networking without taking the time to sit down and simply identify what their strengths are. And I’ve got news for you–if you don’t know what your strengths are, then you can’t outline an effective strategy. And without an effective networking strategy, you’re going to end up wasting a lot of valuable time.

Here’s the thing . . . before you can begin to be an effective networker, it’s crucial to first identify some of the strengths and skill sets that you bring to the table as a business professional.

The problem is, many people have no idea how to pinpoint their strengths because they’re not even sure yet what categories are considered networking strengths and weaknesses.

So to make it easy for you to identify your networking strengths and design a networking strategy based on the areas in which you excel, I’ve come up with five questions for you to ask yourself.

  1. Are you a people person?
  2. Do you enjoy public speaking?
  3. What kind of professional background did you have before starting your business?
  4. How long have you lived in the area where you do business?
  5. What other natural skills do you have (such as time management, organizational skills, or keeping clients focused) that may not fall directly into your business expertise but that people value?

Your assignment for this week is to ask yourself these questions and document your answers.  Next week I’ll continue explaining how to build your networking skills and reveal what you should do after you’ve asked yourself these questions. So be sure to come back!

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