Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner® - Page 91 of 98

The Number One Networking Requirement

So many times, I hear of people joining networking groups and then becoming disillusioned because the referrals don’t immediately start pouring in. The fact is, whatever you pay to join a referral/networking group is only an admission price–it gets you into the room where opportunities may come your way, but it doesn’t entitle you to referrals. It’s not enough to simply show up and participate. You must perform to make the most of these opportunities and new contacts.

Despite the built-in structure and focus on referrals, a strong-contact group member can fail to generate referrals or to receive referrals for himself or herself. Networking skills are the number one requirement for generating more referrals. Being in the setting of a networking group simply makes it easier to use these skills. Simply being a member of a strong-contact group does not entitle you to expect or receive referrals. Nor does being a member of a casual-contact group limit the number of referrals you can generate or receive, if you have the skills and use them.

Develop the skills of a master networker by constantly looking for ways to help or benefit your networking partners and earning a reputation as someone who can get things done, no matter what the organization or situation. For example, one extremely savvy and successful networker I know records the names and cell phone numbers of every member of her networking group, and when new members join, she adds them to her “tele-rolodex” immediately. She has found that she has a better chance of seeing closed business between her contact and the person to whom she makes the referral when she can introduce them immediately–right when she learns her contact’s needs.

For more information on developing the networking skills that will help you make the most of your networking opportunities, click here. For even more on networking skills, click here.

Setting Networking Goals

Do you have goals for your business? Do you have marketing goals and sales goals? We all know that goals are important. The question is, how well do we apply that knowledge?

If you don’t have any networking goals, you are, unfortunately, in the majority. Obviously you believe in the power of networking, or you wouldn’t be reading this blog. Why, then, would you wait to write networking goals for your business?

Networking seems to be one of those things that many people do as a reaction to no or slow business. It’s often forgotten. It’s rarely treated as an integral part of how we grow our businesses. Not only is it frequently neglected, but many people are haphazard and far from systematic in their approach to networking. This approach to networking can keep you from ever getting close to becoming an efficient networker. Setting networking goals helps you avoid the pitfalls of treating networking as an afterthought–as something far less than what it can be for your business.

One way to systematize and organize your approach to networking is to set measurable goals. Without a goal, you have nothing at which to aim. More important, if you don’t have a goal, you can’t measure your results.

When setting networking goals, keep in mind that each goal you create should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timed with a deadline.

Start setting SMART networking goals and you will be well on your way to reaping the great rewards of successful networking!

‘Notworking’ is Sometimes Good

It’s not called “net-sit” or “net-eat,” it’s called NetWORK! Effective networking is all about learning how to work your network effectively and appropriately.

I also believe that there are times to “notwork.” As a matter of fact, I’m fairly confident that when I’m 70 years old, I won’t say, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office.”

BigBearDeckDay

I believe that we entrepreneurs, business professionals and salespeople need to make sure to take time to . . . notwork. I do my best “notworking” at my lodge in Big Bear Lake, California. I’m writing this blog from my deck, pictured here during the day (above) and again at night (below).

BigBearDeckNight

Each year we have a family tradition that each family member gets to pick two things that we all do together during the time we are up here. We type it up and, as each item is completed, the family member puts his or her initials next to his or her item, and we post it on the refrigerator (we have nine years posted there so far). Last night my daughter chose S’mores around the campfire. Today, my son chose a “mental health day” (in the Misner family this means nobody in and nobody out–we hang around the house, watch TV, read, play games and mostly veg).

Success is many things to many people. To me, it’s having the time to spend in a place I love with the people I love. That is true success.

Sometimes, “notworking” is a very good thing.

What Percentage of Your Business Do You Get From Referrals?

We recently surveyed more than 3,000 people at BNI.com. We asked the participants what percentage of their business comes from word-of-mouth or referrals.

We found that fewer than 5 percent got no business from referrals, and more than half of the respondents said they got more than 70 percent of their business from word-of-mouth or referrals!

Look at this and another nine surveys on networking at this LINK.

Does this measure up to your experience? I would really like to hear from you as to whether you agree with the majority of the respondents to our survey.

Friends, Family and Referrals

Last Saturday night, my family and I decided to go out to dinner and ended up eating at a brand-new restaurant in the town where we live. We hadn’t actually heard anything about the restaurant and didn’t even know it existed, but it caught our attention as we drove down the street and we decided to try it out.

The food was exceptional and I was quite impressed with the service and the ambience, yet there were hardly any other patrons besides us in the entire place. As we finished our dinner, the owner of the restaurant walked over to our table, thanked us for coming in, and asked us how we liked everything. I told him that we would definitely come back and asked him how long he’d been in business. When he answered that he’d been in business for three months and that things were coming along slowly but surely, I asked him what he was doing to promote his business. He replied that startup costs hadn’t left him with much money for advertising but that he had a huge extended family and he was banking on the fact that with them on his side, word about the restaurant was sure to spread pretty quickly.

I looked around the restaurant (virtually empty during the dinner hour after three months in business), smiled, and said, “So, how’s that working out for you so far?”

I went on to explain to him that I was somewhat familiar with the whole “networking thing” (I revealed that networking has been my career for more than 20 years) and that people who like, care about and respect you will not necessarily always refer business to you. We chatted for quite some time and I referred him to one of my articles, “Getting Referred By Friends and Family.”

For anyone out there who is currently relying on friends and family for referrals, here are a few things to think about:

  • Oddly enough, the people most familiar with you are often the most casual about giving you referrals.
  • With friends and family, relationships grow out of more personal associations; therefore, it may not even occur to a family member to refer business to you–unless you make a point of asking for it.
  • You need to train friends and family to refer business to you.
  • One of the first things you can do is get them to listen for key words and to recognize circumstances where they can, through you, provide a solution to someone’s need or problem.

What are your experiences with referrals from family or friends?

Networking for the ‘Difficult to Refer’ Business

After a recent speaking engagement I did, a woman appoached me and asked my advice on the dilemma of getting qualified referrals for a “difficult to refer” business. She was passing as many referrals as she could to others, but because her business seemed to revolve around such a niche market, the business referrals she was receiving were slim to none, and she was starting to get discouraged.

I referred her to an article I wrote a few years back that addresses this exact predicament; and since I’m sure some of my blog readers are in businesses that are more difficult to refer than others, I thought I’d shed some light on the subject here. For networkers in businesses that don’t easily generate word of mouth, there is hope for your company because there are still ways you can successfully network and build your company’s reputation.

Years ago, I learned that speaking engagements are a great short-term approach to getting new business while you’re working on the long-term process of word of mouth. You see, when you schedule an appointment with someone you think might be interested in what you’re selling, that time you spend with them–usually an hour–is very important. Well, imagine having that same one-hour appointment with 20 to 50 businesspeople in your community, all at the same time! In effect, that’s what you’re doing when you’re asked to make a presentation at various clubs and organizations.

So, how do you go about getting on the calendars of these business and service groups? It isn’t as hard as you might think. With a little creativity, you can put together a presentation that will be informational, educational and even entertaining. Most important, you can get referrals from people to help you get in front of them. Usually program chairs are scrambling to find someone different, engaging and interesting to come in and present to the group. Your job is to help them find you!

To see a sample of the letter I used to send to program chairs when I owned a consulting firm, click here to go to the article. Getting speaking engagements can make your company easy for anyone to refer and it can also get you a lot of clients while you’re busy building your business.

If you have any comments or thoughts on other techniques that are useful for businesses that are “difficult to refer,” I’d love to hear your feedback.

Where Does Your Business Come From?

Where does your business come from? In a survey of roughly 4,000 people at the BNI.com website, roughly 73 percent of the respondents said that they get most of their business from networking and referral activities. Only 12 percent get most of their business from advertising and less than 10 percent get most of their business from cold calling!

What I find amazing about this is that most colleges still focus on courses on advertising, and most big companies still train their new salespeople how to cold call! Despite that, most entrepreneurs and salespeople (according to this survey) don’t get the majority of their business from these two methods.

Where do you get most of your business from? Comment here on this blog and take the survey (and others) at this LINK.

Networking On Your Business Channel

I wanted to let everyone know about a great online resource called YourBusinessChannel.com that I recently started working with. Since the beginning of this year I have recorded seven online TV shows discussing networking tips for YourBusinessChannel.com, and I am impressed with the fact that the site offers free access to viewers everywhere and broadcasts shows based on viewer feedback.

I’m constantly encouraging people to respond to my own blogs and podcasts because it lets me know what kind of information people are really in need of, and it helps me post information that’s globally relevant to as many entrepreneurs as possible. I really like the fact that YourBusinessChannel recognizes the importance of viewer feedback, and I think that the value it places on the audience’s needs and opinions is reflected in the quality material covered on its shows.

The shows covers advice and information from top experts on subjects such as social networking, employer branding, increasing profitability, e-mail marketing, etc., and anybody can access them at any time.

To learn more about YourBusinessChannel, CLICK HERE.

 

Entrepreneur in Space

I had the pleasure of witnessing the unveiling of WhiteKnightTwo at the Mojave Spaceport in California this week (yes, I said “spaceport,” not airport). The WhiteKnightTwo is Virgin Galactic’s carrier aircraft, which will ferry SpaceShipTwo and thousands of private astronauts, science packages and payloads into suborbital space within the next few years. The rollout represents a major milestone in Virgin Galactic’s quest to launch the world’s first private space program for people, payloads and science.

Sir Richard Branson is the Founder of Virgin Galactic, and the WhiteKnightTwo was christened “Eve” in honor of his mother. I’ve had a couple of opportunities to meet Sir Richard, and I’ve been impressed with his natural charisma and people skills. I talked about my first meeting with him on Necker Island in my blog post, The Butterfly Effect of Networking.

As a result of spending a week on his island in the Caribbean, I was invited to attend the rollout of the new Mothership for Virgin Galactic. It was an amazing experience. The invitees were flown from LAX to the Mojave desert via a Virgin America charter, appropriately named, My Other Ride is a Spacesalg_richard_bransonhip. There, we were brought into a hanger operated by Burt Rutan, founder of Scaled Composites and designer of the WhiteKnightTwo.

Inside the hanger, Virgin Galactic CEO Will Whitehorn and other company representatives spoke about the progress of the program, with the Virgin Galactic logo on a white canvas in the background (seen in the photo on the right).

After the presentation, they did a 10 second-launch countdown and the canvas dropped to reveal the WhiteKnightTwo (shown in the photo below), which had been brought into position outside the hanger doors after everyone was seated. It was a dramatic and impressive thing to witness firsthand.

Later, Sir Richard and Rutan took questions from the audience. During this portion of the event they spoke about the fact that testing for the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo will take roughly 18 months to three years. When that is complete, they hope to be ready to start conducting private, suborbital flights with paying passengers. Within the next 10 to 15 years, it is their vision to have more than a dozen spaceports conducting regular launches for suborbital flights for the public on a continuous basis (entrepreneurism in space!).

Later that night, I had an opportunity to attend a private party in Bel Air for people who attened the rollout and other guests. There, I had a chance to talk directly with Rutan. This was an amazing conversation, because he shared with me incredible plans for the future of space entrepreneurism.

He told me that he believes the cost for private space travel can be cut to a fraction of the current price tag once the program is fully in place. In addition, he said that eventually Virgin Galactic wants to have a space hotel, with spaceships shuttling guests from earth into outer space. I told him I thought that was a bold long-term vision. He looked me in the eyes and said, “That’s just our mid-term vision.” I was taken aback by that and asked what his long-term vision is for private space travel. He said: “private space trips from the earth to the moon and back.” Now that’s what I call vision!

SpaceShipOne now resides in the Smithsonian Institute’s Air and Space Museum. I believe it’s there for a good reason. Branson, Rutan, and the teams at Virgin Galactic and Scaled Composites are making history by doing what very few countries in the world have ever done. They are putting together a program to send thousands of private citizens into space and return them safely. Frankly, I think they’re going to be successful and they are going to achieve it at a fraction of the cost it takes governments to send people into space.

Who knows, maybe the space hotel will happen in my lifetime. If so, I’m looking forward to the first business networking meetings at the Virgin Galactic Earth-Space Hotel. From there, the whole idea that “business is out of this world” takes on a whole new meaning.

What are your thoughts about entrepreneurism in space? Feel free to share them here.

Prepare to Network

I attended a networking event last week where it became immediately clear to me that a few of the networkers I interacted with were not at all prepared. It really bothered me because, to be blunt, if you haven’t done the simple, basic preparations to network properly then you’re not only wasting your time, you’re wasting the time of the other networkers you talk to.

Preparing to network is not difficult; you simply need to follow these basic networking commandments:

* Have the proper networking tools with you (name badge, business cards, contact info of your referral partners).
* Set a reachable goal for the number of people you’ll meet, and then get all their cards.
* Act like a host, not a guest.
* Listen and ask questions.
* Don’t try to close a deal.
* Give referrals whenever possible.
* Spend roughly 10 minutes or so with each person you meet.
* Exchange cards and write notes on the backs of cards you get so that you are sure to remember people clearly.
* Follow up!

No matter how long you’ve been networking, it’s always good to remind yourself to consistently follow these steps. If you do, you’re sure to get the best possible results from your networking efforts. And other networkers, like myself, will thank you for making good use of their time.

Get Your Networking Program Off the Ground

It’s often been said that “starting is the hardest part” of a project. Well, building your business through networking and word-of-mouth marketing for your business is no exception.

Here are four things you can do to get your program off to a strong start:

1. Don’t be a cave dweller: Get out and meet people!
2. Know how to ask for the referral. Learn and develop specific techniques that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want.
3. Consciously select at least three business or networking groups to join in the next three months (chambers of commerce, community service groups, trade associations, strong contact networks such as BNI, etc.).
4. Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way (If you’re a music store owner, for example, you might send music tickets to people who refer business to you).

The bottom line is: Get out there and make diverse contacts, be specific in your approach, and help others in creative and enthusiastic ways–so they’ll want to refer you business!

The Hard Path is Easier

I am writing to you today from beautiful Vail, Colorado, while attending a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. TLC is a group made up of trainers and “thought leaders” helping to transform people’s lives in various ways.

During the five days of seminars and meetings, I had an opportunity to sit in on a presentation by Steve D’Annunzio that I felt compelled to write about. Steve spoke of many things, but one point that really resonated with me was his discussion of taking the easy path or the hard path in the decisions that we make throughout life.

He said, “taking the hard path often makes life easier and taking the easy path often makes life harder!”

I thought about how that applies to what I teach people in business. I’ve used a phrase for years: “It’s not net-sit or net-eat, it’s net-work! If you want to be successful in your networking efforts, you have to work the process consistently and regularly. I see people nod their heads in agreement and then go out and continue to go through the motions of networking and relationship building, refusing to do the hard work necessary to create a powerful network.

The real irony of this is that those are the same people who later say this “networking” thing doesn’t work for them, and they continue to struggle in business. They take the easy path, and business continues to be hard. On the other hand, I see many people who truly work hard at building relationships and going deep in their networking efforts. These are the people who consistently see great results over time. What seems like hard work at first leads to things being easier for them later.

He asked, “Are you practicing hard/easy or are you practicing easy/hard in your life?

A powerful question with significant meaning. So, I’d love to hear from you. What have you done in your life that seemed hard but made life easier or, what have you done that seemed easy but made life harder?

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