Year-End is Time for Vision Making

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, California, to recharge my batteries. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give some thought to the vision you have for your business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The new year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond). Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time at the end of every year to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business. Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for 2012.

This is what I did back in the mid 1980’s when I had some time to reflect on this little networking enterprise that I started, called BNI.  It was during one of these year-end retreats that I created an organization chart for my company as part of my 5 year plan.  At the time, I had two part-time employees.  However, I created an organization chart with 15 different boxes on it.  I put my name in about 11 or 12 of the boxes for the areas I was responsible for and I put my part-timer’s names in the boxes for the areas they were responsible for.

Over the next 5 years, I scratched my name out of each box and put someone else’s name in that box as I hired someone to handle that area.  It was a great exercise that helped me achieve my goals over the next 5 years and it came from one of my year-end retreats.  Clearing your mind and thinking about your the future of your business can be a very good thing this time of year.  Even if you only have a couple days – get away and do some vision making.

If you use this time of year to think about your goals for the future, tell me what you do here in my blog.

Have a great New Year!

Ivan

 

Do Your One-to-One Networking Meetings Seem Like a Waste of Time?

Have you ever heard someone in your network say, “If you don’t do one to ones effectively, you might as well talk to yourself”?  Well, it really is true–if your one-to-one meetings seem more like a waste of time than productive, relationship-building, referral generating sessions that equal time well spent, I highly recommend you watch this fantastic video.

In this short video, Lawrence Conyers of UK based Anson Corporate Media, who is not only an experienced networker but also a gifted and creative photographer, videographer, and artist, demonstrates the actions, behaviors, and strategies that make the difference between one to ones that will take you and your business to new heights of success and one to ones that will take you . . . well . . . nowhere.

Take a few minutes to watch this video (Not only will you learn from it, I’m willing to bet you’ll get a good laugh as well!) and let me know what you think of  it–I think the “Cup of Tea” acrostic is pretty clever and I also realize that now I’ll have to add “great actor” to Lawrence’s list of creative talents! 😉  Also, I’d love to hear about your experiences with one to ones–what tactics have you employed that got great results and what tactics do you think make for a complete waste of time?

To learn more about Lawrence Conyers and Anson Corporate Media, please visit: www.AnsonCorporateMedia.co.uk

Making a Mark with Marketing . . . How Are You Making Yours?

Marketing isn’t something I was always confident about.  When I first started out in business, my degrees were in Political Science and Organizational Behavior.  I had very little marketing experience until I went to work for a transportation company in Southern California and, within a two week span, went from a role in purchasing to a significant role in marketing–a huge change that was an even bigger learning experience.

My marketing experience was trial by fire and reading.  I just started reading books on marketing and learned as I went, and it was that experience that gave me enough knowledge to do some marketing on my own when I later set out as a business consultant. 

If somebody had asked me when I was 25 where I saw myself career wise in thirty years, I would have had no clue that my career would be all about marketing . . . that I would be the Chairman of the world’s largest referral marketing organization.  Sometimes we go places in life we never expected to go but I wouldn’t change a thing about the career path I chose.  I am passionate about helping people grow their businesses and achieve great success through effective referral marketing and after spending over two decades devoted to this work; I really enjoy knowing that the work I do allows me to pass on the marketing knowledge and experience I’ve attained in order to benefit to others.

I was recently asked what my top marketing tip would be and I think it’s really all about building the brand–either the brand of the company or of the individual, depending on the kind of business that you’re in.  Name recognition–that’s the biggest challenge, especially for small companies.  It’s not the same for everybody because every business is a little different and people’s skill sets are different.  For me, in my business, brand building has largely been about writing.  Before the internet I was trying to get articles in newspapers and magazines.  Now it’s much, much easier.  In this age of blogs and social media, even small companies have a global reach.  The problem is all the white noise that’s out there: with so many people wanting a piece of the action you have to be able to stand out.  So, for me, the top marketing tip would be to write, write, write.  Become an expert in your field so people want to follow you because when they follow you, they’re more likely to do business with you.

I’d love to hear how you’re making your mark with marketing–what is your top marketing tip for the other business owners out there reading this blog?

 

Business Networking and Sex . . . and Shopping?

In this video, my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I explain the very different ways in which men and women shop for any given item and, aside from learning a thing or two from this one, I guarantee you won’t be able to keep from laughing at Frank and Hazel’s antics!

After watching the video, come back and leave a comment . . . do you think the observations we talk about in this video ring true in your experience?

Where There Are Systems There’s Success

I’m excited to tell all the readers of this blog that my next book, Business Networking And Sex (not what you think), will be released in January.  There was a substantial amount of survey data(*) that my co-authors and I were unable to use in the book so we plan on sharing much of that data on the BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com blog.

The following table shows the response to a question about having a “system to track money” in relation to whether or not the respondent felt that networking has “played a role in their success.”   As you can clearly see in this graph, people who had a system to track their business were more likely to have felt that networking has played a role in their success.  Even more notably, those who did not feel that networking played a role in their success were almost twice as likely to not have a system for tracking their business!

This is a powerful finding for people who wish to produce a referral-based business.  Clearly, those people who do not use “systems” to track their business are much more likely to feel that they are not successful in their networking efforts.

(*) Survey data is based on a survey of over 12,000 people from every populated continent in the world.  This survey is the basis of the book – Business Networking and Sex.

The lesson here is to start creating systems to help manage your referral marketing and business networking efforts.

Question – Have you used systems to manage this process?  If so, what have you done and how has it worked out?

International Networking Week® 2012–New Video

 

 

The new video for International Networking Week 2012 has just been released!

This short, 9-minute video, sponsored by Referral Institute (www.ReferralInstitute.com) and Entrepreneur Press (www.Entrepreneur.com), explains how the week of February 6th-10th, 2012 will bring about great opportunities for businesspeople around the world and increase worldwide awareness about the powerful benefits of business networking.

2012 will mark the 6th annual celebration of International Networking Week which is now recognized by many countries across the globe, with thousands of events being held during the celebratory Week.  One of the main goals of the Week is to help businesspeople everywhere build their networking skills and expand the opportunities within their reach and, in the video, my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I offer some very valuable pointers on where to focus your efforts in order to make the most of International Networking Week.

Don’t wait until the last minute to join in the celebration and start the year off as a better networker–watch the video now, find an event in your area, and come back and let me know what you’ll be doing to recognize International Networking Week.

For additional Information, please visit www.International Networking Week.com.

What Do You Do When People You Don’t Know Ask For Business?

I received an e-mail this year from a man named Robert and it contained an excellent question.  The full message read:

Good morning, Dr. Misner.

I was wondering if you could answer a question for me.

When it comes to networking and being a connector, how do you handle requests from people you barely know (or don’t know at all) who ask you to give them the names of your contacts so they can connect with those people for their own ventures or projects?

For example, I received a message from a woman I met years ago via the Chamber of Commerce. She was laid off by the Chamber and now is attempting to find her niche. She sent me a message on LinkedIn that read:

“Hello and Happy summer! Do you know personally any life/disability agents or financial planners? I need to meet as many as possible in RVA to see if they can use our medical services at Portamedic to complete the medical portion of the insurance applications. Please forward any names to me if you do. Thank you.”

This is a great question, Robert.

When people contact me with requests like the one you’ve described, I refer them to my article on the VCP Process and explain to them that though I appreciate them reaching out to me, we’re not even at “visibility” yet.  In order for me to feel comfortable referring them, I would need to build a relationship over time that gets us to strong “credibility.”   When most people read the article, they move on to someone else because they think that networking is about “direct selling” and they don’t understand that it is about long-term relationship building.

How would you respond to this and what is your “policy” for giving referrals?  Please leave your feedback in the comment section.

 

Five Steps for Getting the Most from LinkedIn

I’ve been following the development of online business networking for several years now; particularly at the inception of sites like Ecademy.com and LinkedIn.  That said,  I’d like to state for the record: If you’ve had any lingering thoughts that social media is just a fad, you may want to lose them.

Are you aware that LinkedIn’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) has a valuation of 4.3 billion (USD)?  That’s right, I said BILLION.  If you haven’t been taking social media seriously, perhaps it’s time to start.

While there are indeed many competitors to LinkedIn, it has certainly–for now–risen to the top when it comes to sites devoted primarily to business networking and social media.

In this short video, I offer five valuable tips that will guide you in the right direction when it comes to using LinkedIn and getting the most from the efforts you put into networking online through this particular site.

Do you have additional tips for using LinkedIn, or other networking sites, which you’ve found to be highly effective?  If so, please share them in the comments section so others can learn and benefit from your experience.

Tom Connellan: Improving Your Personal & Professional Life Is a Piece of Cake!

(Dr. Thomas K. Connellan, New York Times Bestselling Author)

I’ve been recommending a book by Tom Connellan, Inside the Magic Kingdom, for years and I have great respect and admiration for Tom’s wisdom and his work–today, I’d like to share with you a guest blog written by Tom.

 

The Next Big Thing Is Small, Completely under Your Control

Something You Can Do Right Now Which Produces Massive Results in 71 Days

Could you improve some aspect of your personal or professional life by 1% by this time tomorrow?  Of course you could!

At the close of my keynotes over the past 48 months, I’ve asked thousands of people that question.  In all that time, no one has ever said, “Nah, I can’t make a 1% improvement–not in a day, anyway.”  The response has been just the opposite: “Only 1%?” . . . “That’s doable.” . . . “Piece of cake.” . . .”Anyone can improve something by 1% in a day–probably more.”  These responses are exactly right–it IS a piece of cake.

Let’s take an example of something a lot of people want to improve: their listening skills.  You could be 1% better at listening to other members of your networking group at your next meeting.  You could be 1% better at listening to your clients, colleagues, and the people who work for you.  You could be 1% better at listening to your kids, your spouse . . . you get the idea.

The best part?  If you improve by just 1% every day, in 71 days you will be twice as good.  If you think you can’t last 71 days, then in just 42 days, you will be one and a half times as good.  (And once you see the difference it makes in your life, I bet you will keep going.)

Just as compounding interest grows your bank balance even if you add only small deposits, making daily bite-sized chunks of improvement brings an outsized boost to your skill level.  Imagine the edge you would have over your competitors if you were twice as good at listening to your clients’ needs and your colleagues’ ideas.  Think of how much better your relationships would be if you were deeply listening and communicating with the people you love.

It’s true.  The next big thing is 1% and making a 1& improvement is easy. 

So, why isn’t everybody doing it already?  Because not making a 1% improvement is even easier.  Inertia holds us in place.  As Newton said, a body at rest stays at rest.  We make up all sorts of excuses for not starting now, or tomorrow, or the day after that.

The only way to get past inertia is to put yourself in motion.  Go ahead and make that first 1% improvement.  The game will begin to change.  You will overcome inertia and start gathering momentum, because a body in motion stays in motion.

All you have to do is start.  Now.  Pick something that matters to you.  Choose to be 1% better.  It probably won’t even take a day–more like a minute.

So just start!

What do you think of this guest blog by Tom?  Please leave your feedback in the comments section. 

To find out more about Tom Connellan, please visit: www.tomconnellan.com.

4 Steps to Building Social Capital

Social capital, otherwise known as the value behind your social contacts, can be an extremely important resource in both business and life.  If you take as much care in raising and investing your social capital as you do your financial capital, you’ll experience benefits that can greatly enrich your life as well as multiply your material returns many times over.

In this short video, I explain that you don’t have to purposely become a networker to reap the benefits of social capital and I outline the four key steps to successfully building social capital.

Do you have a standout story about how investing in your social capital significantly paid off for you?  If so, please share it in the comments section–I’d love to hear about it!

What Are You Waiting For?

The best referral efforts I’ve seen happen by design, not by accident or wishful thinking.  Many business people view word of mouth somewhat like the weather: “Sure, it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Referrals and word of mouth can be planned and nurtured.  Anyone, including business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, staff employees, even individuals serving in a volunteer capacity in any field, can accomplish plenty with a well-structured and systematically executed referral plan for a business.

All too often I have seen business people waiting for business to walk through the door.  They think because they are good at what they do, people should be flocking to them. I’m afraid the truth is, it doesn’t work that way! You have to take charge, no matter what business you’re in or how good you are, and bring the business in to you.

I once saw a cartoon strip of two large, ravenous-looking vultures perched on a tree limb, overlooking a dry desert plain. After quite a while, one vulture turns to the other and says, “Wait for something to die? Hell, let’s kill something!” So it is with word-of-mouth marketing. You can’t simply wait for people to come to you. If you do, one of your competitors who also provides good customer service will most likely find them before they show up at your door-step.  If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals.

So . . . don’t wait around.  Do something!

The Networking Attribute That Equals Success and How to Get It

At a recent event in San Diego, I asked one of the best networkers in the United States, Kathryn Lodal, to talk about the ability to be truly engaged, the attribute she considers to be the most important in a networker.

In this video, Kathryn and I discuss the importance of being genuinely engaged and involved in the networking process and Kathryn explains the three most critical aspects in becoming an engaged networker.

Watch the video now and then offer your thoughts about it in the comments section . . . what do you think about Kathryn’s three traits of an engaged networker?  Do you possess these three qualities already, or do you have a ways to go?  If you have questions about how to develop these qualities or about other ways to become engaged in the networking process, Kathryn and I look forward to receiving them!

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