Andy Lopata

The A-Z of Networking: E is for… by Andy Lopata

Another guest video by Andy Lopata about the A to Z’s of Networking.

This month, Andy shares his networking tips which begin with the letter “F”

• Farming
• First Impressions
• Focus
• Follow-up
• Friendships

and much more…

Click here to watch this video

By knowing why you are networking and what you want to achieve, it is possible to plan accordingly and get great, measurable results.

As a business networking strategist, Andy Lopata works with companies on how to use networking tools to develop their businesses. Networking is not just about sales. Whether for lead generation, breaking down silos internally, recruitment and retention of top staff or developing future leaders, networks and collaboration have a key role to play. Andy works with clients to help recognize that role and put the strategy and skills in place to leverage it.

No Complaining Challenge

No Complaining Challenge

Tiffanie Kellog is joined by Deb Cheslow, of Cheslow Achievement Group, as they chat about the “No Complaining Challenge”.

Can you NOT complain?

The 30-Day “No Complaining Challenge” is a great way to reset your perspective.  The idea is a commitment to refrain from complaining. blaming, and justifying for 30 straight days.  If you slip up, restart at Day 1. It may sound simple, but it is definitely not easy.  Deb Cheslow has issued this challenge to literally thousands – maybe tens of thousands – of people and she can count on one hand the number of them who actually made it through the entire 30 days.

Beth and I took the “No Complaining Challenge” back in 2012 and it completely changed our lives.

  • Who wants to join me in making the world a better place?
  • Would you be up to creating a better positive life while eliminating some of the negative as well?

Thanks to Tiffanie Kellog and Deb Cheslow (debcheslow.com/committing-no-complaining-challenge) for reigniting the “No Complaining Challenge”!  Take it out for a spin and let me know what changes you notice in the comments below!

Click here to watch this video

Who's In Your Story

Who’s In Your Story?

I share a personal story about someone who has impacted my life, my high school football coach, Art Hiett.

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Who’s In Your Story?

A BNI Foundation-USA Video Contest!

WHO: When you were growing up, did you have an adult (teacher, coach, mentor, NOT immediate family) who significantly influenced your life? Then, we at the BNI Foundation want to hear from YOU!
 
WHY: We want you to share your story with us so we can share it with the world so people will see and hear the huge impact that adults can have on kids!
 
WHAT: So, tell us in a 1 minute or less video, about the person who inspired you, possibly even changed the trajectory of your life when you were between age 6 and graduating from high school. We especially welcome stories in which a small gesture or action made a big difference, showing how easy it can be to help our youth, without always spending a ton of time over many years. It does NOT need to be professionally filmed or edited. Just grab your phone and press record.
 
WHEN: May 18 – June 15, 2017
 
WHERE: U.S., Email your video contest submissions to: marketing@bnifoundation.org
 
– Subject Line should read: Who’s In Your Story? Video Contest
– Email should include:
  • Name
  • Location
  • Video (1 minute or less) embedded or attached
  • Link to Google Docs/Drive platform for downloading video
 
HOW: (RULES): All submissions must:
– Be NO more than 1 minute long
– State, at start of video, your name & location (city & state)
– Be received by 11:59 pm (Eastern Time) on June 15, 2017
– Be a spoken testimonial of how this special person positively influenced your life
– Include a signed photo release consent form (downloadable here)
 
BONUS WHY: (PRIZES): 3 Overall Winners
– 1st prize – 2 days in Austin, TX for winner + 1 guest (1 day to be spent with Ivan & Beth Misner), including airfare and hotel!
– 2nd prize – $75 Amazon Gift Card
– 3rd prize – $50 Amazon Gift Card

 

Strategic Alliances

Strategic Alliances

A strategic alliance is an arrangement between two companies that have decided to share resources to undertake a specific, mutually beneficial project. With strategic alliances, each member will contribute to your success. No one person is likely to turn your business around, but together, over a long time, they can make a difference. By having a series of small actions over time, you can gradually enhance your relationships and really yield big results

Don’t give up if there’s no immediate payoff. The key is to stay in touch. The best strategic alliances stay connected several times over the year. Plus, you meet in person on several occasions. During that time, you discuss some really simple ways that you can help each other. Therefore, you gradually enhance the relationship.

Successful networking is a series of small actions. Most people who are successful at networking and creating strong strategic alliances view the process as a series of small actions taken with many people to create long-term positive growth for your company. It’s not a get rich scheme. By working with multiple people over a long period of time, you build your business. Don’t just write somebody off if they can’t add something or contribute something to your business immediately.

If you are a member of a networking group, look at the members of the group. Each of them will contribute to your success and they layer a little bit of success on top of each other for you. Each one is a little layer of success for you. No one person in your chapter is likely to turn your business around, but together over a long period of time; they can make a dramatic difference.

In conclusion, I highly recommend that you form strategic alliances with others. By working with multiple people over a long period of time, you build an incredibly solid foundation for successful business.

characteristic

The Least Important Networker Characteristic

What is the least important characteristic for a great networker?

The answer might surprise you.

In this video, I share the five least important skills for networking according to a survey of 3400 business people. Knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do. Furthermore, it is also clear from these results that great networkers and great salespeople have different skill sets.

In conclusion, many people think you need to be an extrovert to be a good networker, but that’s not what the survey says. Here are five least important skills for networking.

You don’t need to be:

  1. Fearless
  2. A salesperson
  3. A self-promoter
  4. Direct
  5. Social media savvy

Click here to watch this video

Networking

Four Tips for Networking at Non-Networking Events

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 get the most bang for your buck. Why? Because not many people think of it. You’ve got the field to yourself, with many opportunities to develop lasting relationships with potential referral partners.

  1. Person-to-Person

What non-traditional settings are we referring to? Well, 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. But networking is not just a New Year’s Day to Thanksgiving activity—it’s year-round. Holiday parties and other social mixers bring new opportunities to network, even more than the rest of the year.

When we tell people this, we usually get strange looks. They think of boorish sharpies selling time-shares to your aunt and uncle at your grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary or trying to round up business at funerals. But networking is not just trying to sell something or passing business referrals; it’s building meaningful relationships and social capital. Master networkers understand this. That’s why they’re always networking.

You’re already in a relationship with everybody you know. The only question is how developed that relationship is. Is it a relationship of visibility, in which you know each other but haven’t had dealings? Is it credibility, in which you’ve interacted enough to establish a degree of mutual trust? Or has it deepened over time to the point of profitability, with both parties receiving mutual benefits as a result of assistance, business referrals, or other interactions?

In today’s environment, it’s easy for us to lose that personal touch when we do so much of our communicating via email and cell phone. The fact is, most relationships develop through physical presence in one-to-one interactions and get stronger every time we meet face to face. 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. There are, however, some things that are important when networking at a holiday social—or at any event, for that matter.

  1. How Can I Help?

“Givers Gain” is the number one rule to remember. You should always be thinking: How can I help this person? Many of us know this and try to apply it to our relationships, but we’re more inclined to do it instinctively with those in the profitability category. How can we apply it to the relationships that are in the visibility and credibility categories?

At a social event, you ask somebody, “How’s it going?” What’s the typical reply? Probably something like, “Great, things couldn’t be better.” That’s a canned response that people give because they want to be polite and because they know nobody really wants to hear their troubles…but it’s not usually the whole truth.

Things can always be better—that is, there are surely ways you can help—but most of people aren’t inclined to go into detail or let others know what’s going on, especially at social events. The best way to find out is to avoid generalities like “How are things?” Ask more specific questions.

In a conversation I had recently, I asked an individual how things were going and got the standard answer that things were great, the company was expanding, and business better than expected. My next question was “Are you hitting all of your goals?” Yes, the business was exceeding all of its goals by a large margin.

Sounds like this person didn’t need any help, you say? On the contrary: to me it sounded like a big opportunity. Think about it: a company that was expanding faster than the owner projected. What kind of help might it need?

Many consider networking just another way to get clients, but when you think in terms of building relationships, a chance to help is a big opportunity. That help can be provided in many forms, each as valuable as the next.

In this case I was able to make some introductions that the individual was very grateful for. But it was only after getting past the generalities that I was able to figure this out.

Always plan on maximizing your networking productivity during the holiday season. Remember, networking means developing relationships, and the holidays are filled with opportunity.

  1. Be Sincere

If you’re networking successfully at a non-networking event, people won’t even know it. You’re genuinely looking for ways to help other people, and your concern for the person you’re talking with is plainly apparent. Anyone who is networking exclusively for personal gain comes across as shallow and insincere.

A good networker doesn’t have to work at sincerity. She really cares about making connections for others, not just for herself. Some people are so accomplished and successful at networking that they are able to network virtually anywhere. No one minds your using an opportunity to share information that will benefit others, even when that exchange takes the form of a business card at a bar mitzvah.

  1. Honor the Event

This one should be a no-brainer, but we all know some scorched-earth, overzealous networkers who trawl the room at a party in pursuit of a sale, any sale. They may do the same, less blatantly, at family and purely social events, but this is still the exact opposite of what networking is all about. Remember, relationships are the name of the game. Socials are a great place to get visibility and credibility, so focus on building these aspects of relationships.

vision

Vision with Tiffanie Kellog and Deb Cheslow

Creating a vision that is unrealogical. What is your vision?

Is your vision UNREALOGICAL???

You probably are not even sure what that means! This month, Tiffanie is joined again by one of her coaches, Deb Cheslow, of Cheslow Achievement Group, to explore a conversation around vision… and hopefully, yours is UNREALOGICAL!

At Cheslow Achievement Group, our vision is to continually develop mind, body, and spirit, living a life of prosperity and joy, so that we may change lives for the better and empower others through teaching, coaching, and training, to seek out their own purpose, live their lives to the fullest and realize their dreams.

Click here to watch the video to learn more

why

Telling your why

Stop. What are you doing in business right now and why? Imagine if you asked yourself this question before doing anything. Sure, in cases such as brushing your teeth, bathing, and eating, you don’t need to explore these decisions. What about your business activities? There is a thin line between a groove and a rut. Major changes are often unnecessary, and sometimes small ones can regain our rhythm. You may find that you hit your groove again when you re-determine your “why,” also known as your ECC (Emotionally Charged Connection.)

Whether you’re a CPA or a mechanic, with all due respect, we don’t care. We really don’t. What we care about is why you put your feet on the floor this morning and decided to stand up and go to work. There can be so many reasons, and only you know what they are. But does the rest of the world? Would you step over a winning lottery ticket if you knew it was more than a piece of paper? Would I step past you if I knew not only what you do but why you do it? People don’t care much about what we do for a living, or how we operate until they know what drives us. Most of the people we meet talk to us only about what they do, but they never explain why.

Let’s explore the five reasons your why should come first.

  1. Believability—Skepticism is at an all-time high. Think about all the different channels of communication now available to us to broadcast our message, not to mention the vast number of people and businesses vying for attention. Among TV, social media, and radio, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. It’s only natural to defend ourselves from the onslaught. Automatically, people are not to be believed—that is, until they give us a compelling reason to do so.
  2. Likeability—“Sell yourself, not your stuff,” Virginia Musquiz said recently at a Referral Institute conference in Petaluma, California. Webster defines a “commodity” as a “mass-produced unspecialized product.” Ouch! Do other people sell what you sell? If the answer is yes, you’d better get some likeability. Products and price being relatively equal, people will always choose to buy from someone they genuinely like.
  3. Authenticity—When and how have you failed? It’s true that no one wants to look bad. However, if you look perfect, that is even worse. Weave stories about your failures and imperfections into your conversations with others. If you can show some humility early on, you will shorten the trust timeline. It’s OK to share with people that you make mistakes, especially if you then tell how you’ve fixed them.
  4. Connectivity—What do we have in common? In a recent training session, we learned that the other people in the class enjoyed photography, cycling, cooking, nature, and running. Bonding and rapport come when you share the same hobbies with someone else or when you are interested in learning more.
  5. Referability—Recently an electrician told us the dramatic story about his career choice. He said, “When I was an eleven years old, my family rushed out of our home in the middle of the night due to an electrical fire in the basement. While everyone made it out all right, we lost everything—the house and all of our earthly possessions. I knew then that I never wanted this to happen to anyone else, so that’s why I became an electrician.” If your story is not this dramatic, that’s OK. But we still want to know the reason why you do what you do.

It makes no difference how you communicate your message, whether it’s TV, radio, print advertising, billboards, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, keynote presentations, or face-to-face meetings. Until we know why, it doesn’t matter what you do.

This blog topic is out of the book. “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect” which I wrote with Brennon Scanlon.

Networker

The Top Five Characteristics of a Great Networker

Recently, I took the opportunity to gather almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world.   I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see in a great networker.  From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed them here in this video.

Good Listener.

At the top of the list is being a good listener.  Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately.  Listen to people’s needs and concerns and find opportunities to help them.  You can’t help others if you don’t know what they need, and you find that out by listening. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots but to do that you have to listen so that you can help people make the connections they are looking for.

Positive attitude.

The first thing that people see from you is your attitude, how you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets.  Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them.

Helps Others/Collaborative.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Helping people shows that you care.  One survey respondent said that “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.”  Helping others can be done in a variety of ways. For example, clip a helpful article and email it to someone. Furthermore, put them in touch with a person who can help them with a specific challenge.  Several respondents commented about not wanting to network with people who are “in it for themselves.” A willingness to collaborate and help others is essential. It builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.

Sincere/Authentic.

You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it!  Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn.  One respondent stated that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you.  We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity.  Faking it isn’t sustainable.

Follows Up.

If you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person.  One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”

Click here to watch the video

Tim Roberts

The Top Five Networking Mistakes – Guest video blog by Tim Roberts

BNI Executive Director, Tim Roberts, shares his tips on how to make your networking more effective by avoiding these five common mistakes.

Tim Roberts shares these tips to avoid while networking:

  1. Sales approach: People are not at networking events to buy things
  2. No preparation: A failure to plan
  3. Not consistent: Only networking occasionally
  4. Talks too much: Being a good listener is Ivan Misner’s number one characteristic of a good networker
  5. Making Assumptions: You do not know who other people know

Tim’s number one tip with networking: Working to better your skills and learning how to use them effectively is what really counts.

Click here to watch this video

VCP process

The VCP Process with Tiffanie Kellog

We simply can’t achieve success at networking without strategically building VCP = visibility, earning credibility, and then ultimately gaining profitability.

VCP is a referral process, not a sales process. If the majority of your clients aren’t giving you referrals, then you are only at Credibility with your clients, not at Profitability. It’s possible that you can have a lot of Visibility and a lot of Credibility, but NOT have Profitability. Rather than a formula, VCP is a continuum. Before you can refer to someone, you will need to know, like, and trust them.

In this guest video blog, Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer for Asentiv Florida, explores the three stages of the VCP process. Click here to watch.

In short, your goal should be to first enter Visibility with people, then perform activities that will help you build trust and Credibility with them, and finally through time and the strengthening of that relationship, they will most likely pass you consistent referrals in the Profitability stage.  After all, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Leaky bucket

The Leaky Bucket Syndrome of Learning

Teaching is a leaky bucket process. You start with a whole bucket of information. When you train someone how to do something, a little information leaks out. When they train someone else and that information is taught to someone else, some of that information leaks out. The people being taught only get that limited version of the information based on their understanding and ability to articulate the material.
 
By the time you are in the third or fourth generation of people passing along the information, you only have about half a bucket remaining and you’ve lost half the information. There’s a sense that something’s missing. What do they do? When the bucket of information gets low, people start putting in their own content in. The problem is that it might not be good content. Very rarely does the material improve over time with this process. 

So how do we plug these leaks?

I learned early on the best solution is to write everything down and to develop “train the trainer” material so there was consistency in the system and the training needs to be conducted in a way that is scalable. When teaching, your “whole bucket” needs to be written down and all the parties who conduct the training need to follow the process without adding or substituting their own stuff. Making the training as part of a replicable system is the best way to fill the leaks. This became even more important as we spread BNI into various countries and cultures worldwide.
Thank you, Colin Horner, for the graphic
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