Networking Fundamentals

Networking Fundamentals

Have you ever wondered what the ONE secret to success is in regard to networking for your business? In this video, I reveal the answer to that very question and I also explain four key networking fundamentals which are guaranteed to boost your bottom line.

In order to be successful in building relationships that will lead to business referrals and opportunities, there are four things you need to focus on:

  1. Be selective.

Quality is first on the list for a reason. The process begins by being very selective about who you bring into your circle of business networking relationships. You want your network to include quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude. You also want people who are good at what they do.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships you develop. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect. Therefore, it is important to build meaningful relationships with your referral partners over an extended period of time if you want to generate more business.

  1. Continuously add people to your network.

Years ago, I learned that there is a dramatic correlation between the size of a quality group and the number of referrals that are generated by that group.

In your network, the number of possible business referral connections is a squared multiple of the actual number of people in your network. So as you begin to build your own network of referral relationships, keep in mind that the more, the better. The bottom line is that the greater the number of connections you have (based on quality relationships of course), the more referrals you can generate. The math is pretty significant and consistent.

  1. Seek engagement.

Engagement involves a promise and an action. In order to achieve success in your networking relationships, you and your contacts must promise to support one another and take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.

There are many ways that you can become engaged. Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network? Have you educated them on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top-of-mind as they meet others who have a need for them? Have you educated yourself on the key features of their businesses so that you can do the same?

The greater the number of people in your network engaged in these activities, the more likely they will be to generate significant referrals. The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

  1. Share stories.

Listening closely to information shared by those in your referral network will help you tell positive stories about them when you see potential opportunities to refer them. Holding regular meetings with contacts in your network will help you tell stories when you give referrals and vice versa.

A good story compels people to take action. If you want to build your network in order to generate more referrals, place story-telling at the top of your efforts. Facts tell, but stories sell.

Ask a Favor

When to Ask a Favor (classic video)

When is the right time to ask a favor? Building a relationship takes time, and cashing in your relationship capital before it has earned enough interest can be devastating.

The following video is classic rebroadcast of my “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com, where I expand on catch phrases I have used frequently over the years. Originally published on March 30, 2016.

In this video, I discuss how to identify and prepare for the appropriate time to ask for a favor within the context of a business relationship. Social capital is a key factor when it comes to asking for favors from others.

Most of us have been in a situation where someone has asked for a favor before the social capital to make that kind of request. If you want to amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. Social capital works the same way. You have to invest before you can withdraw.

Throughout my career, I have had a huge number of folks come to me and ask me to promote something for them. The thing is the majority of those who contacted me had never even met me, had never had a conversation with me. If they did, they met me once and we had the briefest of conversations. They never invested in the relationship and yet they wanted a withdrawal from the relationship.

You may be shocked at the level of personal knowledge required for a deep referral relationship. You may want to argue that referrals should be all about business. I completely disagree. It takes a lot to develop this type of relationship. Those who do will certainly succeed at building a business from referrals.

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?

So the answer to this question of when should you ask for a favor, before you ask for a withdrawal, make sure you make an investment and build a deep referral relationship.

Building Relationships

Build Your Business By Building Relationships

Building Relationships should become one of the most important components of your business. You should build your business by farming not hunting. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it’s not powerful. Social capital is like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal. Relationships are very much the same – referral relationships in particular. You must support and help others with their business before you can ask for their help.

 

Before you ask for a referral, make sure that you can answer “YES” to most of the following points about a person and their business to verify that you have built a deep reciprocal referral relationship:

Building Relationships:

  • You have known each other for at least six months to one year. Networking takes time
  • You understand at least three major products or services within their business and feel comfortable explaining them to others. Can you explain clearly what they do and can they explain what you do?
  • You know the names of their family members and have met them personally.
  • You have been in a situation where both of you have asked each other how you can help grow your respective businesses.
  • You know some of their goals for the year, including personal and business goals.
  • You could pick up the phone and call them at 9 o’clock at night if you really needed something. If they answer during their personal time, you have a good relationship with them.
  • You would not feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge.
  • You enjoy the time you spend together. You like taking time to meet for coffee or a glass of wine.
  • You have regular appointments scheduled, both business and personal to connect. Maybe this is at a BNI meeting or another networking event.
  • They are “top of mind” regularly.
  • You have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further. You enjoy seeing them achieve further success.

Connect with people who also believe in the philosophy of “Givers Gain”®. Therefore, before you ask for a referral, make sure to make an investment, and build a deep relationship first.

active

When Networking, Are You Active or Passive?

Networking is a contact sport, it requires people to get out there and actively and strategically build relationships. What exactly does that involve? What defines “active” networking? This is actually a great question. It opens up a discussion about not only what it means to be an “active” networker but also what it means to be a “passive” networker.

Active Networking:

You invite other people to one or more of the networking organizations you belong to, carry several of the business cards of your members with you all the time, and above all, refer your members to others whenever you have an opportunity to do so.
 X
Active networking also means having a reciprocal relationship with others. We prefer doing business with people who do business with us. Why give your business to someone who’s not willing to return the favor? There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of competent, dependable business professionals in your area who provide any given product or service. They don’t have to buy something from you to reciprocate. They can join one of your networking groups, carry your business cards, or simply refer you to people looking for your product or service.

Passive Networking:

You use other people as a resource occasionally but for some reason cannot actively network with them. It may be because they represent a narrow market where you have no way of assisting. Perhaps they’ve told you they’re not interested in participating in any networking organizations. Are they located too far away to refer to them regularly?
Now that you know the difference between active vs. passive networking, strengthen your networking strategy by pinpointing one person this week with whom to actively and strategically build a stronger relationship. What can you do to begin to form a connection with them? I welcome your questions and comments.
Graduates

Six Steps to Find a Job Through Networking For New Graduates

It’s graduation season so, I thought I would share some ideas on how new graduates (or even seasoned professionals) can find a new job if they are looking for employment.

Over 80% of all jobs are found through networking according to a recent study published on LinkedIn.   Here are six steps to help someone who is looking for work (along with two bonus ideas when they get a great connection).

  1. First, get your mindset right. Desperation is not referable. Since you’ll be depending on your network to speak highly of you to their hiring manager and contacts, practice confidently touting your skills.
  2. Image-check your social media. Potential employers will – and you won’t want to make your network look bad if they stick their neck out and recommend you.  I was once considering hiring someone and I checked out his Facebook page.  OMG!  He threw out the “F” bomb time after time on his posts.  In addition, he posted widely inappropriate comments and tirades about people.  He was not the kind of influence I wanted in my office.
  3. Start with current relationships. Reach out to friends, family and business contacts in person, on LinkedIn and via social media to tell them exactly what kind of position you’re looking for. Ask if they can check for any upcoming openings and keep you in mind.
  4. Inventory your other connections. Don’t forget to check in with neighbors, professional organizations, past customers, and community organizations for more contacts.  When it comes to referrals for employment, don’t underestimate the strength of weak ties.
  5. Determine where you stand with these contacts. Whether they are active, passive, or dormant will determine the strategy. I can outline how to approach each.  Active; pick up the phone and ask for assistance.  There’s a relationship.  They will most likely love to help. Passive; set an appointment to reconnect (preferably in person).  Find out about them and let them know you’re looking for something.  Dormant; reconnect by social media or email.  Just talk.  Don’t ask for anything – yet.  Stay in touch, build the relationship before you ask.
  6. Visit organizations in the industry you want. Network right there, on the ground. Check in with the front desk, drop your resume off in-person and ask to meet with the HR director. Better yet, find out if someone in your network can connect you to a current employee in that company. Contact them through the referral.  Meet them for coffee and come prepared.

Once you get a referral, do these two things:

  1. Research your prospective employer. Never go in without being prepared on the history of the company, their latest press releases, their corporate culture and values – whatever you can find.  Checking out their website is only the start.  Google the organization to get more information.   If possible, find out who might be interviewing you and learn more about them.  I landed one of the biggest jobs of my career (before starting BNI and long before Google) because I researched the company and knew so much about the organization and the professional background of the person interviewing me that it blew him away and he hired me.
  2. Offer to do a “working interview.” This is a great way for any company to take your experience and work ethic for a “test drive.” It will give you an opportunity to show them what you’re made of. If all goes well, ask them to consider you for the position.  I’ve been recommending this to job-seekers for many years.  In fact, one week before I wrote this article, I suggested this idea to my eldest daughter.  She tried it out with a company she wanted to work for and they took her up on a “working interview.”  She did such a great job, they hired her the next day!

Your network is the lifeblood of your career.  Don’t let it die of professional loneliness.  Learn how to network your way into a job.

Share this with anyone you know who is looking for employment.

 

quality

Quantity is Good but Quality is King

The more people you meet at an event, the more successful your networking efforts are–and that’s simply not the case.  Instead, the quality of the connections you form is much more significant than the quantity of connections you make.

A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a good friend who was considered a networking expert in Europe.  He did a lot of work with online networking or social networking.  During this conversation, we got into a fundamental disagreement on the subject.  He believed that networking was first and foremost a numbers game.  He said that “the more people you were connected to the stronger your network.”  At first, I went along with this comment agreeing that the number of people in your network was in fact, very important.  I then said, “the only thing more important than the quantity of people was the quality of people in your network.”  Suddenly, our paths diverged.  He said the “quality of people in your network are really not that important, instead it is all a numbers game.” 

To this day, I steadfastly disagree.  Networking is not a numbers game.  It’s more like a people puzzle.  It’s about building relationships with the close people in your network.  That means that it’s about finding ways to interconnect the relationships you have to build a powerful personal network.  In order to do that – you actually have to have a fair number of quality relationships in that sea of contacts.

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful.

Instead, your network needs to be both wide and – in places, deep.  That is, you need to have a wide set of contacts but some of those need to be connections that go deep.  Therefore, the quality of your network is just as important, if not more important than the quantity of your network.  This doesn’t mean that quantity isn’t important.  It is important.  The thing is that a small network of quality people limits your success.  However, a large network with multiple quality relationships makes for a much more powerful, personal network.

It is a little like your left hand and your right hand.  Both are really important. But one is generally stronger, more powerful, and generally used more than the other. You can’t accomplish what you want as easily without both.  However, one is the stronger hand.  This is similar to the quantity vs. quality argument in networking.

I believe that it is NOT, what you know, or who you know – it’s how well you know each other that counts.

Strong relationships take simple “contacts” and turn them into powerful “connections.”  It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers.  What really matters is if I can pick up the phone and ask some of them for a favor and they take my call then are willing to do that favor.

By the way, since that argument a few years ago, my friend is no longer in the networking business.  Quantity is good but quality truly is King.

referral coincidence

Referral Coincidence?

In this video, I share a story about a referral coincidence.

A misconception occurs when someone focuses on the referral rather than on the relationship that produced the referral. Understand the process of building relationships. It’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important, but the ones that you turn into lasting relationships. You’ll always get better results trying to deepen relationships with people you already know than starting relationships with strangers.

Luck is where persistence meets opportunity.

Networking is not about luck, it’s about relationships. No one person is likely to turn your business around, but together, over a long time, they can make a difference.

Click here to watch this video

 

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.

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.

Andy Lopata

“C IS FOR Networking” BY ANDY LOPATA (GUEST VIDEO BLOG)

Guest Video by Andy Lopata about the A to Z’s of Networking.

This video introduces the “C’s” of Networking by Andy Lopata.

  • Courage
  • Connect
  • Confidence
  • Consistency
  • Collaborate
  • And three more…

Please watch this video to learn more about Andy’s tips. https://youtu.be/FQhDekSYIBs

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.

John Maxwell interview

John Maxwell Interviews Ivan Misner on “Networking”

In this video, I discuss with John Maxwell about checking your checkbook and calendar priorities and how to build your business by building relationships. I also share how I reverse engineer my goals.  Finally, we discussed coaching vs. mentoring and “Farming vs. Hunting”. Please click on the photo below to watch the video of my personal interview with John Maxell.

 

John Maxwell interview

John Maxwell Interviews Ivan Misner

Ivan Misner on “Networking” from The John Maxwell Team on Vimeo.

 

John Maxwell

John Maxwell Interviews Ivan Misner on “Building Relationships”

In this video, I share with John Maxwell how BNI started with my personal need to build my business with referrals. I also share who are my mentors and the philosophy of Givers Gain.  Finally, we discussed how you should make decisions based on the information you are provided WITHIN the context of your value system. Please click on the photo below to watch the video of my personal interview with John Maxell.

John Maxwell interview

John Maxwell Interviews Ivan Misner on “Building Relationships”

Ivan Misner on “Building Relationships”

from The John Maxwell Team on Vimeo.

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