Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner®
Summer Networking

Summer Networking Tips

The temperature is rising and so are your summer networking opportunities!

Every once in a while I hear a BNI member say that their chapter slows down during the summer months. I also know of many chapters that flourish in the summer with new members and referral growth! So why are some up and some down? It is a matter of gearing towards the season by refocusing on referrals during your networking activities? Build your business while traveling on vacation too.

What summertime networking activities are you attending? These may not seem like networking activities, however, you should still always be prepared.

  • BBQ
  • Block Parties
  • Pool parties
  • Picnics
  • Ball games or sporting events
  • Music Festivals
  • Reunions
  • Parades
  • Or just some summertime fun:
    Golf, Boating, Traveling, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping or Gardening?

Barbecue / Block Party Networking!

Whether headed to a holiday block party blowout or a more intimate birthday celebration for a colleague, barbecues are a great chance to meet friends of friends and expand your professional network.

Make the most of your family barbecue. Bring a few sample products to the barbecue to give out to family and friends. Who better to help spread the word for you? If you are so inclined, ask attendees to bring a new friend with them to the event. More than likely, some family members will show up with uninvited guests anyway. The more the merrier, right? Use these opportunities to get to know people and share what you are looking for. You never know who they know! But don’t break out in a sales pitch at a barbecue. Ever. People are there to have fun, relax and enjoy.

Pool Party  / Picnic Networking:

Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately! Listen to what everyone is saying at your summertime activities. What topics are they mentioning?

Are they complaining about their business? 
Invite them to visit your BNI chapter.

Are they excited about a wedding?
Share about those members in your chapter that are good referrals for them.

Do they talk about their home being too hot in the summer and it costs too much to cool?
Talk about your HVAC or solar member.

Do they want to remodel their home or need to move homes?
It’s Referral time!

Ball Game / Sporting Event Networking:

A great networking strategy is to get tickets to a local ball game or sporting event and invite BNI members and potential referral partners you know to introduce to each other. Whether your team wins or loses, great connections can be made!

Music Festival Networking:

The hills are alive with the sound of networking. Music brings people from all different types of professional backgrounds together networking through all of the music and dancing at a music festival will be a challenge, but it can prove to be invaluable. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal– utilizing networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking, so don’t overlook anyone.

Networking at Reunions:

Summertime is the time for both family reunions and class reunions. These are essentially a gathering of (potentially) dozens of people who, despite the fact that they took various different professional paths, automatically have a great deal in common and genuinely want to see one another succeed. So if you’re looking for a job, a career change, industry advice or even if you’re just hoping to network within your field, attending your reunion could be just the ticket. The question is not whether you should attend your reunion, but how you will network effectively at the reunion.

The FOUR hour “one to one” Networking Foursome!

If you are a golfer, find a fellow BNI Member who also plays golf. Set up a round of golf and you each bring a favorite golf playing client to introduce to each other as a referral source for the other BNI member. What a great way to solidify a top referral source and score a ‘hole in one” referral yourself with someone else!

If you do not play golf? Is there a summertime activity that you do that you and a fellow member can invite clients to attend? (Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping,  or Gardening)

The GOAL?

Any place you go with family, friends or strangers is a networking opportunity!

  • Bring Your Business Cards! Bring your fellow BNI members’ business cards with you to all your summertime events!
  • Remember Your Fellow Members and make a goal for one referral per event you attend!
  • Who have you met at these summertime events that you can invite to your chapter as a visitor?

Here’s to a GREAT summer in the Northern Hemisphere filled with lots of referrals! Those BNI Members south of the Equator can wait to use these tips in December or try to network on the ski slopes.

Mentor

One Time, One Meeting

My daughter, Cassie (AKA Dorian Prin – professional name), is a graphic designer and she’s working on the cover of my next book: The Networking Mentor.  I’m including a “sneak peek” of the working graphic for the cover of the book here in this article.

I was talking to Dorian about the paragraph below which is excerpted from the book:

We’ve all had mentors who are in “our story.” When we talk about how our life has changed through our experiences with them, they are part of that story. However, there is something even more important: The real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? That’s what creates a meaningful life, and that’s why this book is for both mentees and mentors.

In our conversation I mentioned that sometimes you might meet someone only once but that meeting is so profound, it can have an influence on you for the rest of your life.

一期一会

Dorian spent some time in Japan and can speak the language.  She said the Japanese have a saying that relates to this concept.  She said the Japanese phrase is: 一期一会 (ichi go ichi e).  Its direct translation is “one time, one meeting” but it probably can be translated more accurately as “once in a lifetime meeting” and is about the cultural concept of the importance of the unrepeatable nature of connections between people who meet. It is a Buddhist concept specifically tied to the tea ceremony and was the topic of contemplation for the tea ceremony she once participated in during one of her visits to Japan.

The lesson here is that you never know how the things you say may influence someone else.  Even if you only meet them once.  An off-handed comment can have a profound effect (either good or bad) on the person you are talking to.

So, I have a question for you.  What has someone said to you that profoundly affected you in business OR in life?  Share your story here on my blog.  I’d really like to hear it.  Post it below in the comments.

Wallflowers

Always Get to Know the Wallflowers

I was recently talking about networking with a good friend of mine, Dr. Mark Goulston. Mark is a psychiatrist and consultant, and he said something that intrigued me.  “People should always introduce themselves to the wallflowers in the room. Nobody attends a networking event wanting to stay in a corner and be left alone. They’re in that corner because the most technically skilled people are often socially shy.”

“You never know when you’ll meet the next Bill Gates”.

This comment really resonated with me, and it reminded me of a time a few years ago. I was at a party put on by Virgin Galactic relating to the testing of White Knight Two and SpaceShip Two. I walked outside the party and looked over in the corner by the pool where I saw a man standing by himself. He was looking uncomfortable and very much out of his element. Then I noticed who it was. It was Burt Rutan, the founder of the aerospace company Scaled Composites and designer of the SpaceShip Two. He was by himself at a party with hundreds of people celebrating the work of the company he founded, as well as Virgin Galactic.

I said to him, “It must be incredible to see this amazing, long-term vision come to fruition.”  He replied, “This isn’t my long-term vision of what the company can do.”

I’m sure I was visibly surprised, so I asked him, “What’s your long-term vision?”  He said, “Well, I believe the company can push forward past sub-orbital flights and expand to allow space tourists to do orbital flights around the earth.”  I naively said, “That’s an amazing long-term vision.” He replied, “That’s not my long-term vision.” I was really surprised and said, “Okay, what’s your long-term vision?” He replied that he felt “the company could provide orbital flights to passengers who could then stay at a hotel in space for a short period of time.”

At this point, I’m completely blown away, and I once again said, “That’s an amazing, long-term vision,” and, yet again, he said, “That’s not my long-term vision.”  At this point, I’m all in, and I’m completely fascinated with this visionary, so I again asked, “What’s your long-term vision?” He replied, “I believe we can launch flights into orbit, stay at a hotel in space, and then take flights around the moon and back. That’s my long-term vision.”

Burt was probably in his late sixties when we had this conversation, and I asked him one final question, “When do you think that vision can become a reality?” And he replied, “I think it can be done in my lifetime.”

Gobsmacked

The British have a term for what I felt at that moment, “gobsmacked.”  I was utterly astounded by this man’s vision, and I was incredibly honored to have had this opportunity to talk with him.

I founded the largest referral networking organization in the world, and I’ve met tens of thousands of people during my tenure in BNI. I can easily say that this was one of the most interesting conversations I ever had with someone at a party or networking event. Burt Rutan’s and, of course, Richard Branson’s,  vision of what can be done through their entrepreneurial efforts have left an indelible mark on me.

The important lesson here relates to Dr. Goulston’s belief that we should always look for the “wallflowers” in the room. Not every one of them will be a Burt Rutan, but I’ve found that most of them are interesting and well worth the conversation.  Just every now and then, you might meet a Bill Gates or a Burt Rutan, and that makes the effort of finding those wallflowers worth it.

Not Taught

WARNING! This is Not Taught in Schools or Colleges

I once suggested to the dean of a large university that the business curriculum should include courses in networking. His response, “My professors would never teach that material here. It’s all soft science. This is not taught in schools or colleges.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’ve run into this attitude many times. We give people bachelor’s degrees in business, but we teach them little to nothing about the one subject that virtually every entrepreneur says is critical — networking and social capital. Why don’t business schools teach this subject? I think it’s because most are made up of professors who’ve never owned a business. Almost everything they know about running a business they learned from books and consulting.

The science of networking is not taught

Can you imagine a law course taught by someone who’s not an attorney? What about an accounting course taught by anyone with no direct accounting experience? Yet we put business professors in colleges with little or no firsthand experience in the field. It’s no wonder that a subject so critically important to business people would be so completely missed by business schools.

The science of networking is finally being codified and structured. Business schools around the world need to wake up and start teaching this curriculum. Schools with vision, foresight, and the ability to act swiftly (the way business professors say businesses should act) will be positioning themselves as leaders in education by truly understanding and responding to the needs of today’s businesses.

At the end of our conversation, I asked the dean, “How are courses on leadership any less a soft science than networking?” He didn’t have an answer.

Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of a strong network. They are willing to put in the time it takes to develop fruitful connections. If any of these misconceptions are holding you back, it’s time to correct it with the tips provided — and watch your business grow.

Disruption

Lead the Disruption or Become Disrupted

In my lifetime there have been many companies that have been crushed by disruption. The irony is that they could have actually led the disruption. The fact that they were crushed by other companies was because they chose not to lead. They chose to either ignore it or fear it. And leading with fear is a bad strategy. These three businesses are prime examples of what not to do.

Sears

Sears was once America’s largest retailer. They began as a mail order catalog company using the postal service to deliver virtually anything, to anyone, almost anywhere, and it dominated its competition for many, many decades.  Sears was Amazon more than 100 years before Amazon.

In its day, Sears was the 800-pound gorilla that could, and did, decimate smaller retailers.  Unfortunately, Sears was so entrenched in their brick and mortar stores that when the world-wide web was introduced in 1991, they did not have the foresight to lead the way and make the transition.

In fact, just the opposite happened.  Their reaction was to actually shut down their catalog two years later in 1993.  Amazon.com was founded the very next year in 1994.

Kodak

A friend of mine who retired from Kodak many years ago told me that he felt there were few corporate blunders as staggering as Kodak’s decision to ignore the digital camera market. This is especially true since Kodak invented the digital camera in 1973, and it went on to be issued a patent for digital cameras in 1978.

Why, then, would the company that invented the digital camera not pursue this incredible opportunity? The answer, to them, was obvious. They did not want to interfere with their highly lucrative film processing business, and they did not believe that people would be interested in looking at photos on a computer. Wrong on both counts.

Blockbuster

When the winds of change swept through the video industry, Blockbuster was more of a brick than a weather vane.

In 2000, Netflix approached Blockbuster with a request for Blockbuster to buy them out for roughly $50 million dollars. Blockbuster turned them down more than once.

Jim Keyes, the CEO of Blockbuster said in 2008: “Neither Redbox nor Netflix are even on the radar screen in terms of competition.” By the time Blockbuster saw the success of the new Netflix model, they made several attempts to copy it.  However, they were too late.

Today, Blockbuster is bankrupt, and Netflix is worth over $100 billion.

I hate change. I really do.

People like the comfort and contentment that comes with a successful status quo. The problem is that a successful status quo is the present, built upon a strong past. Unfortunately, the present is not etched in stone for the future. Whether I like it or not — the future involves change, and the change is, by nature, disruptive.

Social scientists refer to this as the “threshold model of collective behavior.” For decades I have called this “concept recognition model.” When I was young, people didn’t think they needed answering machines — until enough people thought they did, and then they were everywhere, used by virtually everyone.  Later, people didn’t see the need, nor the value, for fax machines. Until enough people did — and then everyone had one.

In the 90’s I met many people that had no intention of ever using email.  Now, I can count on one hand the number of people I know who don’t have an email address — and they are all over 70.

Before people adopt a new concept, early adopters embrace the new process or equipment.  Later the resistant population joins in, and, under the right conditions, there is a viral cascade of change. Changing the world is always disruptive.

The only thing I hate more than change is failure.

Failure is what happens when you’re left in the dust when the change crushes our “present.” Today, more than ever, we need to choose to change before we are forced to change. By the time a business is forced to change, it is probably too late.

In today’s changing world, we will either manage the status quo which will eventually result in failure, or we can lead the disruption which is likely to lead to the reinvention of our business, and potentially the industry as a whole. So you must decide: be disrupted, or be the disruption.  I vote to be the disruption.

Addition By Subtraction

Addition By Subtraction

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go. My wife, Beth Misner, explained to me years ago that the way to grow healthy rose bushes is to prune them back. You will receive additional beautiful blooms on new growth stems by subtracting the number of old growth stems. So, how does this relate to BNI?  The way to grow a healthy BNI chapter is to get rid of the members who don’t show up or don’t participate. BNI thrives on accountability. Therefore, one must also believe in addition by subtraction in order to get new growth in your chapter.

Like I said–sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

Let’s say you’re in a networking group and you have hit a plateau. You can remember a time when your group was on fire. When you all had passion and excitement and you couldn’t get to your meeting fast enough. Now, you all seem to have lost steam, and things just aren’t what they used to be. The referrals aren’t being generated, the 1-2-1’s are happening, and the group seems to groan a little every time the meeting begins. You want to regain the passion and help your network grow, but how?

If you want to add value to your group, you need to take away the things–or people–that are making it dysfunctional. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want your network to grow, you may have to cut it back. Like I said–sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

Don't be this guy

Don’t Be This Guy

A BNI Director once told me about a member who called him and said he was quitting his group because he wasn’t getting enough business.  That very same day, the Director received a call from the Membership Committee of that same chapter. He asked if they could remove that member. He wasn’t following up on the referrals he was being given by other members. Don’t be this guy!

When I hear stories like this I just shake my head in disbelief.  Referrals don’t equal more business.  Following up on referrals leads to more business. And yes, doing a good job and providing good customer service are important in order to keep getting referrals. 

If you get referrals and don’t follow up on them – you’re not going to get more business. 

When you give a referral, you give a little bit of your reputation away.  If you give a referral with a strong recommendation and then the service provider doesn’t actually follow up with the contact – the service provider not only looks bad – you look bad for giving the referral!

By the way, the group removed the member who wasn’t following up.  I heard he now has a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Repeat after me, “If you don’t follow up on referrals, you’re not going to get more business.”  And then, you might have to take a job at the Department of Motor Vehicles.

Following up on the referrals you get – – – is it me, or does that seem incredibly obvious?  Please tell me – that’s incredibly obvious right?

Misner Leadership Scholarship

Misner Leadership Scholarship

The student leadership program at Gladstone High School made a huge difference in me and the man I was to become. For that reason, Beth and I created a $1,000 Misner Leadership Scholarship that we have awarded to a student at Gladstone High School (my old alma mater). I have been giving this out for about 20 years to outstanding students in the leadership program at Gladstone High School where I graduated.

This year’s scholarship winner was incredibly deserving because of her involvement in leadership related programs at Gladstone High School.  This year’s winner, Jacquelin Sanchez, was incredibly deserving of the Misner Leadership Scholarship. The photo above is of Jacquelin and her parents from Gladstone High School’s Senior Awards Night.

The scholarship was given by the Misner Family Foundation.

30th wedding anniversary

30th Wedding Anniversary Thoughts

Yesterday my wife, Elisabeth, and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary together in the Champagne region of France.  We just left a BNI Conference in France and wanted to take a couple of days to celebrate alone.

This gave me time to reflect on the many ways she has been such an amazing life partner and I wrote down some of the things that I’ve said about her over these many years. She is the greatest referral of my lifetime.

Here are just a few 30th wedding anniversary thoughts:

  • You bring color to my black & white world. 
  •  I make the living and you make the living worthwhile.
  •  President John Adams always depended on Abigal Adams as his advisor and confidant. You have always been my “Mrs. Adams.”
  •  It’s hard being me – without you.
  •  You are always the most beautiful woman in a room.
  •  I am a compass and you are magnetic north. I will gravitate to you wherever you are.

She is my bride of 30 years. I wish her another 30 years together.

30th wedding anniversary

 

 

MISNER AUDIO PROGRAMS

MISNER AUDIO PROGRAMS

I wanted to spotlight different audios from my legacy audio library available on MISNER AUDIO PROGRAMS. These professionally produced audios cover a wide variety of topics that can help you refresh and re-energize; get a new perception – be exposed to or reminded of new skills, ideas, and techniques.

One of the interesting things about audio learning and one reason I created the BNI podcasts is that so many members tell me that they can do other things while they learn-allowing them to learn more and more often. And an even more interesting audio learning research fact for you – is that retention is much higher in audio learning then video -so it’s the best of both worlds; convenience and effectiveness.

Networking and Word of Mouth.

I believe word of mouth is a basic skill for success in any life. I first introduced this concept to the world through BNI and it is even more fundamental now 30 years later as the pendulum swings from all the social media back to the interpersonal relationships that are the baseline of successful referrals. These audios available through www.misneraudioprograms focus not only on the basics but much much more. Many people have commented to me that having these audios to listen to educate, refresh and inspire. I’ve said this often, and it is still true, they do not teach this in college. Audios are a great way to learn it. BNI is the way to experience it!

BNI Networking Secrets

Understand the time confidence curve for your business and its impact. Do you know how it underlies every interaction you have and how knowing this information guides you in building your word of mouth and what to do when. Avoid scorched earth interactions-move at the pace of the curve for you and your client.

Knowing your target market is critical. Learn why being laser specific is so important. Target market is the key to only being referred to those people you want to do business with. And, once you know your Target Market, finding your Contact Sphere will take your business to the next level in a shorter amount of time then you might realize. These two business models will change the way you look at your business and your referral streams.

Entrepreneurs and Everyday Leaders

I always tell people – belong to several networking groups. Learn WHY diversifying your networking experience will be important to you and which organizations will offer what to your business. Whether you are in BNI and want to brush up on the fundamentals and maximize your experience or you are thinking about adding these skill sets to your business tool kit and exploring networking as an additional aspect of business development this collection of networking nuggets will take you to the next level.

This and other single packages are available with the special promo code IVAN for an additional 30% off at www.misneraudioprograms.com. The entire library package and other special packages are already significantly discounted for this time!

Soft Skills

Why Soft Skills Make Strong Networks

I’m not much of a “new-age” guy. Yet, I believe in the immense power of the Law of Reciprocity. This concept touches upon the deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice for someone who did something nice for you. There is certainly value in soft skills. If you would like to see some evidence as to why those skills work, I can tell you there’s a lot out there to support the Law of Reciprocity, starting with the Nash equilibrium theory (the acronym of which is, ironically, NET).

Nash’s equilibrium theory

Nash’s equilibrium theory basically states that the best result will come when everyone in the group is doing what is best for both themselves and the group — a form of reciprocity. The optimal outcome of a situation is one where no individual has an incentive to deviate from their chosen strategy after considering the other participant’s choices.

Reciprocal altruism

Reciprocal altruism is another form of reciprocity. It involves an equitable balance between collective altruism and personal need. Collective altruism looks at the needs of the group but doesn’t give strong consideration to the needs of the individual. Reciprocal altruism attempts to consider both.

In early writings by Socrates and Alexis de Tocqueville on ethics, the concept of enlightened self-interest was all about reciprocity. Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy which states that people who act to further the interests of others, or interests of the group or groups to which they belong, ultimately serve their own self-interest. In other words, it is possible to do well, by doing good.

Givers Gain®

As I grew my company BNI, I incorporated the use of the term, Givers Gain® from the very beginning. The underlying foundation of this term is predicated on the age-old concept of “what goes around, comes around”.  However, it’s more complex than that.

Networking is about relationship building. I have found that the best way to build a relationship with someone quickly is to help them first.  If you can help someone — and I’m not talking about selling them your product or service, I mean genuinely help them — by giving them an introduction, information, article, really anything that serves their need, and you will begin a professional relationship with them.

Creating a relationship helps build trust. Trust is the cornerstone of effective networking. When you practice Givers Gain often enough, you will be on the road to building a powerful personal network predicated on trust, built through helping to serve someone else.

This concept, whatever term you choose to use, serves as a bridge between individuals and a community of people for collaboration of all kinds, and it fuels individual and professional growth – not to mention increased referrals and business.

Cooperation

Research has shown that social cooperation is rewarding to our brains. Cooperation increases the frequency of dopamine release within the brain. Interestingly, dopamine decreases without social cooperation. Each of the above strategies are about cooperation and collaboration, and each can increase dopamine production.

Some time ago, I received an email from Amruth, a BNI member in India with a great metaphor for this philosophy. He said words to the effect of: imagine that you have two spoons, a small spoon and a large serving spoon. Which one are we using the most? The small spoon serves only us, but the large spoon allows us to serve others. The more that we all use the large spoon, the more we will all have plenty for the small spoon.

A networking group using the large spoon for everyone creates amazing success for all. In the book Go Giver, co-written by my friend, Bob Burg, the authors say, “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”

Call it Nash’s equilibrium, reciprocal altruism, enlightened self-interest, or Givers Gain. I believe that reciprocity is about taking off your bib and putting on your apron. This kind of networking is where individuals enter, and communities emerge.

Wine O'Clock

Wine O’Clock

Take a little Wine O’Clock time for YOU!

Life for people in this day and age is crazy busy. People will take up every spare moment in your life if you let them, so it is important to create a life that has “margins.” Build free time, family time, and personal time into the margins of your day-to-day existence. If you don’t schedule it, it won’t happen. You’ll be happier when you create margins—we promise. Schedule time to relax.

I have scheduled time to relax. Beth and I are taking a vacation this week with my good friend and co-author, Stewart Emery, with his wife. We have been enjoying this week together in Bordeaux France sipping wine and enjoying the sights.

In this video, we discuss “Margins”. You create “harmony” in your life by creating space in your life. Harmony is the access to the things that really matter to you and being fully present; while avoiding those things that do not.

“Who’s in Your Room?: The Secret to Creating Your Best Life”

This is the premise behind my newest book, co-authored with Stewart Emery, and Rick Sapio. We believe this book can change people’s lives. Learn the secret to creating your best life.

https://tinyurl.com/WhosInYourRoom

Whatever you are in life, be a good one. Experience the best the world has to offer. Opportunities will open up for you when you do.

CHEERS!

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