With All Due Respect for the Mayans . . .

With all due respect to the Mayans, 🙂 it appears that we need to give some thought to our plans for 2013.

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.  Getting away to the mountains is something I’ve done for almost two decades.  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 I have have for my business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The end of the 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 next year.

It’s also good to include some personal goals in your planning.  Some of the business and personal goals I set for next year include:

  1. Regular dates with my wife.
  2. Several mid-week visits to our Lake House
  3. Several business/personal trips this year.
  4. Turn business trips into more fun trips.
  5. Complete at least one new book.
  6. Refinance a commercial property.
  7. Review a strategic plan regarding one of my businesses.
  8.  Continue to support charitable causes.
  9.  Work more “on” the business and less “in” the business.

What goals do you have for 2013?  Also, do you take a little time off at the end of the year to think about it?  Share your ideas here.

Great News on my Health

As many of you know who follow my blog (regarding my health), I have been diligently working to regain my health for the past 9 months.  I would like to give you another update, the best one yet!  Recently my urologist requested PCA3 Assay test to determine the likelihood that I would once again have a positive biopsy.  This is a new test just approved by the FDA.  My doctor was intrigued with the “fading” quality of the lesion as seen the in color Doppler ultrasound scans once I started the GC-18000 protocol with Dr. Grinstein in the UK.  Dr. Grinstein’s protocol had a swift and dramatic impact on the disease.

The results of the PCA3 Assay test came back last week with a low score (far lower than the urologist expected).  The physician told me it seems that I am in remission!  This was certainly great news to get as we started the holiday season. I personally attribute this shift to the dietary and lifestyle changes I have made under the supervision of  Dr. Mark Labeau with the Center for Advanced Medicine, as well as to the work of Dr. John Grinstein.  Dr. Grinstein’s understanding of cellular DNA damage and repair of that damage through plant-molecular biology has been extremely beneficial.

Feel free to contact them if you know someone with similar health issues.

I would like to wish you and yours a very Happy New Year and a very healthy and successful 2013 to us all!

Networking During the Holidays

The holiday party is a great time to meet people but . . . you should have a plan!

Everybody goes to parties, and the holiday season is full of them. It’s also a business slowdown season for many of us who are not in retail. The holiday parties are NOT just a place for free food and drinks.

Holiday parties and other social mixers bring new opportunities to network, even more than the rest of the year.   The holidays are times when we are more likely to see people in a social setting, and this setting definitely lends itself to building relationships.

Most people think of networking only in traditional networking venues, such as the chamber, strong-contact referral groups like BNI, and other business-oriented gatherings. But that’s not using the power of networking to its fullest.

It can be the best time to introduce yourself or have a friendly conversation with one of your superiors. Making an impact on someone important can be a real career booster; it could open the door for new job opportunities, promotions and/or new business.

In order to make the most of “holiday party networking,” here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared! If you’re going to hobnob, try to know whom you are talking to, what their job and role in the company are and what they’ve done this year for the organization.  Use this info as a way to start a conversation. If you know some of the people who will be in attendance, do a Google search on them.  Do some homework.
  • Ask questions. Some suggestions: How did you start the business? How did you take the business international?  How did you start franchising? What were some of the challenges with . . . ? Have you read any good books lately? (My favorite is: How can I help you?)
  • Have a “teaser” topic ready. Approaching the end of the year, every business wants to increase profits and performance in the New Year. Have an idea ready that describes how you can improve your sector in the coming year. (Word to the wise: Don’t give away the goose; set up a meeting to discuss the details.)
  • Use this introduction as a segue for a future meeting. As mentioned above, you don’t want to “end” the conversation at the party. The end game here is to open the door for follow-up. You want to be able to connect with the person after the party, one-to-one.
  • Don’t have more than a couple drinks. It’s a party, but it’s not YOUR party. You don’t want to be stinking of liquor when you approach the people you want to connect with. Impressions count. Make the right one.
  • Be confident of your value. Introducing yourself to an executive can be an intimidating experience, so give yourself an informed pep talk. Before the event, make a list of the things you’ve done over the past year and understand how what you do may integrate into discussions. Once you’ve got this down, there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel good about yourself. Consider how what you’ve done can integrate with the executive’s interests.
  • Honor the event. Make sure when networking at a holiday party–or any non-traditional networking event–that networking is supplementary to the reason people are there, so don’t treat it like a chamber mixer.  Be sincere.

Don’t act as if you’re in the boardroom giving a presentation; keep it natural and leave them intrigued. The real emphasis must be on “finesse” at a company holiday party. Yes, it is a great networking opportunity–but if you overtly “sell,” you may turn people off! After all, it is a holiday.

You can network anywhere, including events where it might not at first occur to you to try it–and, paradoxically, it’s at these non-traditional networking settings where you’ll often get the most bang for your buck.

If Your Goal Is Success, You Need to Take a Look at Your Systems


In this short video, filmed at the 2012 International Conference for BNI, the networking organization I founded back in 1985, I talk with my good friend and BNI Executive Director Mark Carmody about systems and business.

Mark tells how one of the stories in Michael Gerber’s book The E-Myth caused him to have an epiphany about the value in systems and how systems can make it substantially easier to run an efficient business.  To sum things up, the more systems you incorporate into your business, the more successful you will be over time.

After watching the video, please leave your feedback in the comment forum below and share some of the systems you’ve implemented in your business that have made a significant impact on your success. It’s always inspiring and thought provoking to hear about some of the ways people are achieving success in their businesses and whether the systems you rely on in your business are basic or more out-of-the-box, I’d love to hear about them.

Lead from “Among” Not from “Above”

Stewart Emery (Success Built to Last) was over my house a few months ago.  At breakfast one morning he told me about an interview he did with a well-known billionaire in the computer industry.  The billionaire shared an intriguing story with Stewart about an experience he’d had when the senior executives of a company interested in purchasing his company visited his office to discuss the possible purchase.

Stewart Emery

 

At lunch, the billionaire told the senior executives of the company he was negotiating with that he was going to take them to the Executive Dining Room.  They followed him to the dining room which was very nice but not extravagant.  But that wasn’t the big surprise.  The surprise was that the dining room had a buffet line.  Moreover, the billionaire walked up to the buffet line, picked up a tray, and stood in line behind everyone else.  The executives looked around the room as it filled up and they realized that this room was not an “executive dining room” but was the company dining room.  The boss stood there in line with all the employees.  He spoke to everyone.   No one was afraid to talk to him.  In my opinion, he didn’t lead by being above them; he led by being among them.  Stewart told me that the billionaire said the management team was surprised by the fact that he and all the executives ate with all the employees.  One of them commented that this would have to change.  For the boss, it was a test.  This was not the kind of company that he wanted to sell his business to.  The negotiation ended that day.

Companies have a choice.  They can move toward exclusivity in their organizational culture or they can strive, commit, honor, and embrace inclusivity in their organizational culture.

Sometimes when people meet me, they say that they are surprised that I am approachable.   I find that interesting.  I think they feel this way because sometimes we, as leaders, act in a way that people perceive as unapproachable.  We act “better than” to other people.  I believe people should be surprised when a leader is unapproachable, not when they are approachable.  The problem is that we live in a world where success sometimes creates a sense of separation (with both the organizational leaders and others).  One of the key things to embrace in a successful company is the sense that the boss, the owner, the senior executive(s) are, in fact, approachable.

What are your thoughts on this matter?  Please feel free to share any relevant stories and experiences you may have.

International Networking Week Video 2013

The new video for International Networking Week® 2013 has just been released!

This short, 11-minute video, sponsored by the Referral Institute, explains how the week of February 4th-8th, 2013 will bring about great opportunities for businesspeople around the world and increase worldwide awareness about the powerful benefits of business networking. International Networking Week® 2013

2013 will mark the 7th annual celebration of International Networking Week which is now recognized by many countries across the globe, with thousands of events being held during the 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.  In the video, my “Room Full of Referrals” co-authors (Tony Alessandra and Dawn Lyons) offer some very valuable pointers on understanding behavioral profiles in a networking context and where to focus your efforts in order to make the most of International Networking Week.

Take a few minutes to watch the video and share with us here on the blog what you learned.

A Closer Look at What Networking Really Means

Back in October, I posted a brief video in which Dawn Lyons, Mike Macedonio and I discuss the new definition of networking (Click on the graphic below to view the video.).  Today, I’d like to provide much more detail and further clarification regarding this new definition.

Twenty years ago, I wrote a book called The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret. In it, I discussed several terms new to the business community, specifically about how they could help grow a business.  One term that seemed to have multiple meanings concerning business growth was “networking.” For some, networking was about compiling a huge database of names, usually by collecting business cards. Others saw networking as the opportunity to get in front of people and personally prospect for business. Still others perceived networking as nothing more than schmoozing and boozing, with no specific intention except to be seen and socialize.

So in an attempt to streamline the myriad of perceptions about the concept of networking, and based on my experiences in a variety of business and interpersonal situations, I concluded that networking was, in effect: “The process of developing and using your contacts to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence or serve your community.”

This definition stood the test of time for many years, until. . . it didn’t.  Since then, I co-founded an organization called The Referral Institute with two partners, Mike Macedonio and Dawn Lyons. Based on our collective experiences in helping people across the U.S. and around the world build a system for getting referrals, we realized that the definition of networking needed to evolve. The new, updated meaning would reflect the changing times and business climate.  There were definitely some truths in the original definition that needed to be retained, but a few just no longer felt right.

One we wanted to address was “using.” Today, this sounds rather harsh, even cold. People today tend to find a negative resonance in the concept of “using” someone for personal or professional gain. The other word we scrutinized was “contacts.” The term has become synonymous with one’s database. And a database is, by design, impersonal, practical and, again, rather cold.  After many discussions about modifying the definition, we came up with what I feel is a much truer representation of the concept of networking:
“The process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence or serve the community.”

The changes may seem small, but they are significant. When one “activates” relationships, it’s a much more dynamic, interactive, give-and-take type of engagement with others than simply “using” the relationships. Using is a one-way street, while activating is a major two-way highway. It’s just much more powerful, more true to who we are – or need to be – today, if we want to succeed at truly engaging with our relationships. People who network in this way show markedly better results than the “users.”

About the paradigm shift from “contacts” to “relationships:” For many years, I’ve talked about the “hunting versus farming” mentality when it comes to growing a professional network. The “hunters” run from one business event to another, grabbing and passing business cards with very little interaction past that, diligently add the card to their database (read: “contacts”). Then they run out again in search of more to add to the ever-growing list. The bigger the list, the better they’ve “hunted” and, in their often-misguided opinion, the better their “network.”

But let’s think of the farmers, the ones who cultivate steady, growing, genuine and authentic relationships with the people they feel are important to include in their network. They have a steady back-and-forth of interactions that benefits not only them. Everyone involved is rewarded. Why? Because the time taken to really get to know people enough to make a relationship means that when it comes time to make a referral, it’s much easier to call upon them.

By simply changing a couple of simple words in my original definition, we were able to fine-tune it into what we believe is the true meaning of effective networking. Our revised definition is much more congruent with the style of networking we teach every day, and what we know really works.

To be successful with business networking, you should understand that it is really about helping others as a way of growing your business. The people you help are more willing to help you or connect you to people they know. So in essence, networking is part of the process you go through to build a referral-based business. Through networking, you can deliver your positive message effectively. Referrals are the end result.

Andrew Hall’s “Referral Magic”

How specific are you when asking for referrals?  Do you say you want business from “somebody”. . . or “anybody”. . . or do you give the name of the specific person you want to meet?

Joining me in this brief video is Andrew Hall, a master networker based in China. Watch as Andrew tells an engaging story about the importance of being specific, or as he calls it, “Referral Magic.”

After watching the video, please leave your thoughts, comments, and/or feedback in the comment forum below . . . are you now thinking twice about how specific you are when asking for referrals?  Are you going to make a conscious effort to be more specific in your “ask” when asking for referrals in the future, or do you maybe have a tactic for being specific that you can share in order to help others? . . .

Networking Is an Acquired Skill

The Third Law of Notable Networking: Networking Is an Acquired Skill
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking and Click Here to read about the Second Law)

Most people are not born networkers; they develop the skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice.  Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively.  The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element.  Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively.  It is a skill that will only grow in importance.

Remember Will Rogers’ statement about being on the right track:  “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!”  If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.”  The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer.  This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.

Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how.  This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons.  Sure, you can perform, but how well?  Simply attending meetings is not enough.  You need to listen to CDs, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This is no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Always keep in mind that in order to develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business, you must attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice!  Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others.  If you have questions about what to do (and/or not do) in order to most effectively greet people, exchange cards, listen, excuse or introduce yourself, please let me know in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to do follow-up blog posts on any/all of those specific aspects of networking (as well as any other aspects you may have questions about). Thanks!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox