Preparation & Follow Up–the Two Keys to Referral Success

In this brief video, filmed at the 2012 BNI® International Directors’ Conference in early November, I talk with Terry Hamill, a respected business networking expert based in Europe.  Terry explains two important keys for maximum effectiveness and success in business referral generation–preparation and follow up.

Terry advises that the true gold is in the follow up and that the most successful networkers use the strongest follow-up methods; he also offers a few important tips for preparation prior to attending networking meetings and events.

Do you have a favorite follow-up method or a highly effective preparation tactic that you use prior to attending networking functions?  If so, we’d love to hear about it!  What works well for you could really help other people in their journey to networking success so, by all means, please feel free to share your favored methods and tactics in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Authenticity Is the ‘New’ Audacity

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Ten months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  In the past, we’ve co-authored the articles.  Today, I’m proud to share with you Part 10 of the series – which is written entirely by TR as a Guest Blogger.  Please comment below and let us know what you think.

 

AUTHENTICITY IS THE ‘NEW’ AUDACITY

(Part 10 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

Have you ever heard the following phrase: “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business”? 

I have.  And every time I hear it, it still disappoints me.  Today, business is personal and people do business with ME because of ME, and they should do business with YOU because of YOU – not because you perfected some PowerPoint presentation or recently attended a Sales seminar on how to overcome a prospect’s objections.

Nowadays the consumer marketplace that fuels the economy sets the criteria on how they wish to be treated.   Consequently, to society today the term ‘overcoming objections’ sounds a lot more like the following descriptive words:

  • Persuade
  • Manipulate
  • Convince
  • Coax

When it comes to buying, purchasing, or investing criteria, I don’t know about you, but the concept of being ‘closed’ and the terminology used in the Traditional Sales Model doesn’t translate that well with me – and probably society overall for that matter.  I don’t want to be ‘convinced’ of anything and my guess is that you don’t either.  If you’re interested in creating a long-term client/customer relationship, it’s my presumption that it’s probably not in your best interest to start off by persuading, manipulating, or convincing your potential client to do business with you.  Don’t you agree?

Yet the sad truth is that, today, it’s probably a safe bet that we could go to Amazon.com and search books on the topic of Sales.  It’s also probably a safe bet that we’d find hundreds (and potentially even thousands) of Sales books with their title including the words ‘Persuasion Techniques’, ‘How To Close The Sale’, and even ‘How To Overcome Objections.’  Yes, people who employ these tactics will get results.  I’ll concede that point.  But these tactics continue to reinforce the lifestyle of a HUNTER – behaviors that are long gone as conduct that small business owners and entrepreneurs idolize.

Remember, Business Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting’.  It takes time to cultivate relationships.  But once you dedicate the effort, these relationships ultimately allow you to ‘harvest’ referrals for a lifetime.  Today, people choose to do business with other people because of:

  1. Who they are
  2. What they stand for and
  3. The lessons that life has taught them through their own personal experiences that uniquely qualify them to offer the marketplace a product or service in a way that only they could deliver.

If you seek Client relationships, today’s customers aren’t just buying what you sell. They’re buying who you are.   If you seek Strategic Partner relationships, people refer other people – NOT the product or service they offer or the actual company that they represent.

When networking and getting to know other professionals, if you shy away from who you are, what you stand for, and what personal experiences life has revealed to you, then your message most likely will not resonate today and you may not get the results that you expect.  Don’t make a mess of your message by trying to recite the ‘About Us’ Section of your company’s website when you first meet people.  What is captivating to other professionals these days is congruency with how you communicate that you are a real person through your attitude, behavior, and actions.

The definition of Audacity according to Wikipedia is to be BOLD, COURAGEOUS, or have CHUTZPAH.  I say that it’s pretty bold to be yourself with all your wonderful flaws (nobody’s perfect) because it proves your authenticity and attracts connection.  Everybody has relationships, yet few people relate.  Strive to be one of the few.  If you truly act like yourself all the time and not just in your personal life, then people will be able to relate.  This builds trust, credibility, and camaraderie.  If your behavior is different depending on whether you’re in a personal or professional environment, then you may be attracting people who are attracted to who you’re pretending to be.  And, it’s my belief that this is not the recipe for a long term professional relationship that’ll provide a steady stream of referrals.

In the grand scheme of things, you devote your time networking at the local Chamber of Commerce, Association Mixers, and even weekly BNI meetings to receive a return on your investment (ROI) in the form of regular referrals.  Navigating the VCP Process® to networking from Visibility to Credibility all the way to Profitability would most likely then be your goal.  Based on the marketplace’s value on authenticity today, I personally believe that your easiest path to Profitability is to start by simply being yourself.  Isn’t that a sigh of relief? 🙂

In closing, a successful small business owner’s mission is not solely to take the action to network.  It’s about taking the actions to ensure that you connect and relate with others when you network that really counts.   I thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 11 called “Don’t Make a Mess of Your Message.”

The 5 Levels of Relationships to Understand for Networking Success

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with my good friend Andy Hart, a networking expert from Ireland, at the BNI International Conference in Long Beach, CA.  Andy is a true master of networking and in this short video, he explains the Levels of a Relationship and how having a huge network of contacts doesn’t necessarily mean you have a huge pool of contacts from which you’ll actually gain business.

Andy discusses five main relationship levels in regard to business networking and the possibility of generating referrals from those in your network of contacts; more importantly,  he outlines a simple exercise which will enable you to pinpoint which relationship level you are  currently maintaining with each of your contacts.

After carrying out the exercise Andy suggests, please come back and share your findings–were they what you expected, or were  you surprised by what you discovered?

Are You Using Networking Tools Effectively?

The Second Law of Notable Networking: Learn How to Use Networking Tools Effectively
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking)

A Notable Networker must have and use the right tools to network skillfully.  All professionals need the tools of their trade to conduct business.  A painter needs a brush, a teacher needs a blackboard, and an administrative professional needs a computer.  To achieve success, networkers need their own tools as well.   Good networkers’ tools include:

  • name tags to identify themselves to others,
  • card holders to carry their business cards, and most important,
  • card files to carry other people’s business cards.

It has been said that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce coined the term “networking.”  Over the years, I’ve gone to many Chamber of Commerce business mixers.  Unfortunately, too many of them seem to practice a passive form of the technique.  However, depending on the chamber, some mixers can be an outstanding way to meet many new people.  At Chamber of Commerce mixers, people from a variety of businesses get together with the idea of meeting one another.

At these meetings, I often encounter people who don’t wear a name tag.  Of those who do, many neglect to put their company name or profession on the badge.  I can’t imagine anyone going to a business meeting and not telling everyone what business he or she is in!  You’ve got to let people know who you are and what business you’re in if you want to reap the full rewards of networking.

I also run into people who don’t have any business cards with them.  Business cards are one of the most inexpensive forms of advertising available and a crucial tool for networking.  They should be well designed and present a professional image.  Most important, you need to have them in your possession!  A large stack of cards sitting in the desk drawer at your office doesn’t help much at a business mixer.  Always carry a small card case full of business cards with you and keep a large box of business cards in the glove compartment or trunk of your car for restocking your card case on the spot.  Use the backs of any cards you get from others to make notes that will jog your memory about each individual or about the conversation you had.

In addition, you should go a step further and carry a vinyl or leather card-carrying case or book for the cards of the people you network with.  These are people in your own personal network of contacts, people who presumably are storing your cards and referring you as well.  Always keep three or four of their cards so you can hand one to anyone interested in their services.

One way to enhance your networking efforts is to use computer software.  When you get back to your office, you can enter the new names and information you’ve acquired into a contact management program to help you organize your information and enable you to easily handle follow-up activities.  In addition to these, several general database programs, such as Relate2Profit, provide contact management capabilities.  You can log in new information and contacts, get reports of your progress, and reminders.  If you’re not already using a program such as this, rest assured that the learning time is a couple of hours or less.

Do you have a favorite networking tool or a particular software program that you’ve found to be especially useful in enhancing your networking efforts?  If so, please write about it in the comment forum below–I’m always interested in hearing about new tools for increasing networking effectiveness. Thanks!

 

Which Is Better–Online Networking or In-Person Networking?

 

In this brief video, Roger Green and I talk about online networking versus in-person networking and also what I discovered when doing research for the book Business Networking and Sex in regard to how much time is necessary to invest in networking in order to get results.

When it comes to networking, there’s online networking and there’s face to face networking.  The simple fact is–it’s not “either/or” . . . it’s “both/and.”  Online networking doesn’t impact face-to-face networking in a negative way. It enhances it.

If you want to be successful in building your personal network, you need diversity in your networks. I highly suggest that people join a few different networks, rather than just sticking with one.

What in-person networks do you currently belong to?  Which online networks do you currently belong to?  In the comments section, please share which networks (both in-person and online) you belong to that you’ve had the most success with–perhaps someone else might read about your experiences and gain success with those networks as well.

Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude

The First Law of Notable Networking: Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude

Good networking involves providing a positive and supportive environment to other business people.  Remember this: Notable Networking is predicated upon the concept that Givers Gain®

If you freely give business to others, they will give business to you.  This concept is based on the age-old notion that “what goes around, comes around.”  If I give business to you, you’ll give business to me, and we will both do better as a result.  Networking is like a savings account: if you keep investing wisely, you can draw upon it when you need it.  One enthusiastic networker who belongs to a formal networking group told me, “The longer I’m in the group, the better I get at networking and the more referrals I get.  In addition, it seems that the more referrals I get, the higher the percentage that I close!  By developing long-term relationships, I am gaining the trust of the other members, which makes it easier to receive and close the referrals that are passed to me.”

A positive, supportive attitude also includes the way you present yourself to other people.  Everyone likes to do business with an enthusiastic optimist.  If you join a networking group, remain focused on the reason you’re there.  I see far too many people go to networks and get caught up in the irrelevant nitpicking: “The food’s no good,” “The speaker was mediocre,” “This room’s not very nice,” and so on.

With the quibblers, I share this anecdote: An airline attendant once responded to a passenger’s complaints about the quality of his dinner by asking him, “When you go to a French restaurant, do you usually order an airline ticket?”  The same rationale applies to networking meetings.  The quality of the food and the speaker should be secondary to the quality of the contacts you are making.  Don’t lose sight of your purpose.

It’s not Net-Sit or Net-Eat, it’s Net-WORK!  If you want your network to work for you, then you have to work your network in a positive and supportive manner.

In many ways, the First Law of Notable Networking involves more than attitude; it’s a way of life and a good way to do business.  When you constantly and consciously keep other people in your mind, they will do the same for you.

I’ll be posting about the Second and Third Laws of Notable Networking over the next couple of weeks so be sure to check back if you want to learn even more about how to succeed as a networker.

*Can you think of a person in your network who exemplifies the First Law of Notable Networking?  If so, take this opportunity to carry out the First Law yourself and showing them your support by recognizing that person in the comments section below.  Tell us who they are and what they do that makes them such a shining example of this First Law of Notable Networking.

If You Don’t Get This, You Won’t Succeed at Networking

In this brief video, Roger Green and I talk about the two styles of engagement (Relational vs.Transactional) and The VCP Process®.

Throughout the course of my research, I’ve found that, on the average, when it comes to networking, men’s behavior typically goes in one specific direction, and women’s behavior goes in a very different direction. It’s very important to understand this but what’s even more imperative to understand is the VCP Process®–if you don’t get VCP, nothing else you do will work at networking; you have to understand VCP.

Remember: Generating business through networking is a referral process; not a sales process.  After watching the video, please share your thoughts in the comments section regarding the VCP Process®–which part(s) of the process do you currently excel at and which part(s) do you feel you might need to work on?  Do you believe your are better at certain parts of the process due to being either transactional or relational, or because of your gender?

The Three Laws of Notable Networking

Over the last few decades, I’ve met individuals who have developed such incredible networking skills that they get almost 100 percent of their business through referrals.  They’ve been successful at building a word-of-mouth-based business because they’re as committed to giving referrals as they are to following up on the referrals they get.  What does it take to achieve results like these?

There are three requirements or laws for becoming a Notable (or effective) Networker.  Without applying these laws, you would find it impossible to work your networks effectively.

At face value the laws seem simple, but don’t let first impressions deceive you.  Behind these simple-sounding principles lies a comprehensive set of requirements and obligations.  If you don’t heed these laws, you will invest many hours and some dollars into networking groups but get a poor return on your investment.

The Three Laws of Notable Networking Are:

  1. Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude
  2. Learn How to Use Networking Tools Effectively
  3. Networking Is an Acquired Skill

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going into detail about each of the above laws so be sure to come back to learn more about how you can become a truly Notable Networker and get optimum results from all of your networking efforts and investments.

Also, if you have a story about how you’ve used one or more of the above laws to achieve success in networking, please share it in the comments section below so we can all learn from your successes.  Thanks!

Health Update – November

I would like to share an update on my health situation . . . I have some fairly good news. Since my last update, the scans seem to be showing a positive change. When I had an ultrasound done earlier this week, my doctor stated that he was having a hard time finding the edge of the lesion. It appears to be less distinct and  much harder to identify.   As these changes have been happening, my PSA level has remained the same. It was rising steadily for the last several years but it has currently stabilized.

I have been involved in a clinical trial using a nutritional concentrate called GC-18000, produced by Dr. John Grinstein from the UK. The extracted molecules from certain plants are thought to have a chemotherapeutic effect on cancer. I have attached a paper (Protocol for Clinical Trial) written by Dr. Grinstein for you to read more about this process. In my case, it certainly seems to be making a difference. My radiologist has been doing ultrasound scanning for 35 years, and he has never seen anything like this before.

I remain hopeful and positive and will share more as time goes on. Thank you for your continued well wishes and support.

Grow Your Network by Making People Feel Welcome

In this brief video, Australian networking master Paul Lomas shares some ideas with me about making people feel welcome when they arrive at networking meetings and events. He also gives a very useful tip on how to give a great response when someone asks how you are doing in order to create an opportunity for positive, genuine connections.

The video emphasizes the importance of the visitor’s experience to a networking group and how it can very significantly shape their choice regarding whether or not to return to that group.  Sometimes it can be much too easy to get comfortable in networking groups and neglect visitors.  For that reason, I urge you to watch this short video because it’s a great reminder of just how important it is to genuinely make visitors welcome in order to grow your network and make your networking group as successful as it can possibly be.

Do you have any good tips or stories about how you or others in your networking group make others feel welcome?  Please share them in the comments forum so others can learn from your tactics for successfully meeting, greeting, and making visitors feel at home.

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