I ‘Absolutely’ Refuse to Participate in a Recession!

Last month I wrote a blog article headlined: “I Refuse to Particpate in a Recession.” It clearly resonated with many entrepreneurs. A lot of people posted responses to this blog with a clear understanding of how to apply this idea. There were, however, some who e-mailed me directly with a bad case of the “Yeabut Syndrome.” It goes like this, “Yea but” Ivan, things are different for me or different in this area or different in this business or different in my situation or different in my alternate universe, etc., etc.

Sometimes I feel like saying to these people, “Yes, you are different than the people I am talking about. You will fail; they will not” (oh, sorry, gotta remember–must keep that as internal dialog).

I’ve been through three recessionary periods in my business. I don’t need a crystal ball; I have history. Here’s what my history tells me: People with a strong network will survive and even thrive during downturns in the economy. I’ve seen this repeated over and over. Here’s how it plays out in my networking organization, BNI .

[Cue music and fade away to a vision of the past].

The first three to four months of all the past recessionary periods, membership tends to slow. Not as many people join. They say things such as, the economy is bad, I can’t afford it, things are different in my universe, etc., etc. Then something amazing happens. People start to realize that they better do something and do it quickly! They finally recognize that a recession is here and their business is going to “hell in a handbasket” right before their eyes. At this point, the magic happens. They get “networking religion.” They realize that they better get out of their cave and really, really network to build their business and that they’d better do it quickly. Then we start getting more and more people trying to join the organization (some can’t join because they waited too long and their profession is already taken)!

[Cue music and fade back to today].

So here we are today. It looks like we are in the beginning of an economic downturn. You have a choice to make. Are you going to wait six months, like many of the people I’ve seen in the past–or are you going to take control of your business and get a head start on your networking efforts? Only the strong, smart, and “networked,” suvive a recession.

You still have time to start and/or improve your existing personal network. If you’ve been active in networking, now’s the time to get back to basics and reintroduce yourself to the fundamentals. If you’ve done some networking but need to really expand it, take yourself to networking school. Immerse yourself in materials that will help you. Here’s a good place to start for almost 80 free articles on networking: Entrepreneur.com Networking column archive. If you haven’t done much to build your personal network, what are you waiting for? The recession to be over? By that time, your business will be over! Start now!

There’s an old Chinese proverb: When is the best time to plant an acorn? The answer is 25 years ago. When is the second best time? The answer is today.

So, share with me–what are you doing to improve your network today?

Business, Networking, and Sex!

Look around… make sure no one is watching. You just clicked on a link from a business website to a blog article about “sex.” Well, I’m afraid it might not be what you think.

Do you wonder whether men and women approach networking differently? Well, I do. So do two associates of mine by the name of Hazel Walker and Frank De Raffele.

Sex is about how your body is put together. Gender is about the role you engage in daily. Male and female brains are hardwired differently. According to some experts, the male tends to be about taking action as related to goals (called instrumental functions by the scholars) and the female for the talking or for nurture that is related to relationships (called agency or interpersonal functions). Studies in 39 different countries highlight these differences.

Well, we want to see if this is true and how it plays out relating to the way that men and women network. So take a few minutes (really it will only take a few minutes) and join the 5,000 people who have already answered this survey. We will be sharing the results in an upcoming book, and you can say you were part of the survey!

Take the networking gender survey here.

In addition, feel free to post a message below relating to your thoughts on the subject.

Double Your Income Doing What You Love

A good friend of mine, Raymond Aaron, just released a new book called Double Your Income Doing What You Love. This is a great book that I highly recommend.

Most people want to make more money, but they often feel that in order to do so they’ll have to sacrifice their lifestyle and then work at a job they don’t particularly like. Raymond (seen below with me) says that if you’re like most people, your life is likely to be filled with activities, obligations and commitments that have nothing to do with your goals, dreams or life’s mission. He makes a convincing argument that it doesn’t have to be that way. More important, he breaks down his ideas into six “pathways,” which enable you to set goals in a way that always helps you achieve a solid level of success in whatever you do.

Raymond helps you start the process by having you consider your life missions and special talents, and then he shows you how to address procrastination and establish what he calls MTO goals (simple concept and very powerful).

If you knew Raymond like I know Raymond, you’d definitely read this book. He is an amazingly accomplished man who is doing what he loves (He recently partcipated in an Arctic Polar Race by walking with a sled to the North Pole!) and he makes a great living at the same time.

With Raymond, you’re getting advice from the real dealsomeone who is doing what he is teaching.

The Speed of Trust

I’m in Cancun this week, participating in the Transformational Leadership Council (a network of transformational trainers and profesionals started by Jack Canfield in 2004).

I had an opportunity again to hear my friend Stephen M. R. Covey speak about his book, The Speed of Trust, and it reminded me just how much I love this book and why it is so important to networking.

During his presentation, he told how Warren Buffet bought a company from Wal-Mart in one single meeting of two hours. Both parties shook hands and, 29 days later, Wal-Mart had its money. In Buffet’s annual report he said; “We did no due diligence. We knew that Wal-Mart would do what they said, and they did.”

In this day and age of long contracts and huge legal bills, this sale was done quickly because there was high trust on both sides. The result was a deal done in less than a month, saving millions of dollars.

Trust is the most compelling form of motivation. Covey spoke about “Three Key Ideas” to move at the speed of trust:

  1. There is a compelling business rationale for trust. It affects cost. There are economic benefits. High trust is a divedend and low trust is a tax. When trust goes down, speed goes down with it. When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down. This is a dividend, a high-trust dividend. Trust is a qualitative and quantitative factor. Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.
  2. In today’s new global economy, the ability to establish trust is key to every organization. We are interdependent. In a cluttered world, trust helps you cut through the clutter. It is a performance multiplier. When people trust you, everything else you do is enhanced.
  3. Trust is a competency. It is something we create and can get good at. It all starts with self-trust and personal credibility. Are we behaving in a way that builds trust and transparency? Are we keeping commitments and talking straight?

One of the best ways to obtain trust is to extend trust. When trust is reciprocated, it moves faster.

Covey ended his presentation by asking, “Are there people that you work with that you could extend trust to who you can make a profound difference for?” Now the key is to follow your conscience. Develop relationships and extend trust.

I love Covey’s book and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to build and improve his or her personal network.

Shown in photo – Stephen M.R. Covey, Ivan Misner and Greg Link (Covey’s business partner at Covey-Link).

The Case of the Disappearing Business Cards

Are business cards disappearing? Well, sort of. I don’t mean your business cards. They better not be disappearing. You need them to network with. But what about all the cards you’ve been collecting when you meet people? What’s happening to them?

Business cards are the most powerful single business tool, dollar for dollar, that you can invest in to help build your business. They are a “marvelous, compact, energy-efficient, low-cost, low-tech instrument–a self-contained device with no gears, springs or batteries that keeps working for its owner hours, weeks, years, even decades after it has left his or her hands.” That’s what I said about them in my book It’s in the Cards a number of years ago. Well, I still believe all of the above except for one thing: I’m not so sure that our actual business cards continue to work for us hours, weeks or especially years after they have left our hands.

More and more I am seeing the business card become a disposable advertisement for people. Don’t get me wrong; I still think that business cards are very important. However, I also recognize that technology is replacing the “card box” and Rolodex I once had on my desktop. It has, for me, been replaced with Outlook. For many years, I had all the business cards I collected in a well-organized and categorized alphabetical card box. In recent years, I (like many other people) get back to my office with a pocket full of cards and have the information entered into my Outlook database. And the cards?  Well, let’s just say they used to disappear. But not any longer. No, today I keep them digitally using a CardScan.

I recently got a CardScan Executive and I love this product. I found it really, really easy to use (this said by someone who only reads instructions if absolutely necessary, and it wasn’t). The palm-sized device makes an image of the card and then automatically strips out the information into all the correct categories (name, company, address, phone, etc.). It then allows you to download all the information directly into your computer database (and did I mention that it was easy?).

Although I must admit that cards I used to receive went to that great big card box in the sky, now I can say they live on forever as a digital image and, more importantly, as a contact in my digital database–which is very important to the operation of my business. I really love the CardScan and I highly recommend it to anyone who is serious about networking. You can get more information about it at www.CardScan.com.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this type of product and how you use it in your networking efforts.

If you’d like to read some other articles that I’ve written about the effective use of business cards, take a look at these two columns here at Entrepreneur.com:

Article: Smart Ways to Use Your Business Card

Article: Creating an Effective Business Card

"Act as if. . ." Party

I’m spending a couple days at Jack Canfield’s home in Southern California participating in a strategic planning session for an organization I belong to called the Transformational Leadership Council (an organization he founded about 4 years ago for trainers and thought leaders).

Kathryn Lodal, one of my Executive Directors for BNI requested that I ask Jack a great question that I thought would make a good topic to discuss in my blog today. In Jack’s latest book, “Success Principle’s,” one of the things he recommends that people do is to create an event where they “act as if” they were the person they aspired to be 5 years from now! Kathryn wanted to know how to best do that. So, I asked Jack for some suggestions and I loved his response.

Jack suggests that people put on an “Act as if” event where everyone comes dressed as the person they want to be five years from now. He said the key to making this work is using props and video recording the event. Make sure that you create a vision for where you would like to be and to record that vision so that you can more effectively attract that in to your life. Dress like the person you want to be, talk like the person you want to be, create a story around the person that you want to be, and make sure to record that vision during the event.

I’d love to hear from anyone that has done this and how the event worked out. I know that Kathryn and her BNI members in San Diego will be doing it a few months from now and and I can’t wait to see the video!

Brand "You" by Writing

I just found out this week that my most recent book, Masters of Sales, hit the New York Times Bestsellers list.  Of course I am ecstatic about this, but it also got me thinking about what an amazingly powerful advertising and branding tool it is to be a an author.  With each article and each book that I write, I am building brand recognition for me and for my business.  This is a technique that has worked well for many people I know.   For years I’ve recommended that people write as a way of developing personal and professional credibility in their business.  I’m always amazed at how many people say it’s a great idea but then don’t actually do anything about it.

Recently, I’ve formed a small mentoring program for people within my business to brainstorm and talk about writing and how to get published.  Since then, many of these people have published dozens and dozens of articles.  As a result, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on how “you” might like to begin this process.

Let’s be real here—most business people certainly do not have time to sit down and write an entire book, but writing articles are something that most people could find time to do at least once a month.  Writing articles consistently and for an extended period of time is a plausible, virtually costless way to brand yourself and your business by increasing visibility and enhancing credibility in the community—it’s just an idea that most people are simply too lazy to implement.

But for those who are willing to step up to the task, here is my best advice:

• Think about the things you know and understand best, pick out the elements of that knowledge that might be of interest to the general public, and then review the types of media outlets that write for that audience.

• Either by phone or letter, tell an editor why readers will be interested in the feature idea you have or why it’s newsworthy (or better yet, use your network to connect with the editor).

• Stick with it and remain consistent in submitting articles and before you know it, you will be well on your way to branding yourself as a local expert through being a recognized, published author.

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