10 Questions to Ask When Meeting Someone for the First Time

When meeting someone for the first time, do you ever find yourself getting tongue-tied or feeling lost when it comes to knowing what questions you should ask to get a conversation going? Help is here!

Below, I list 10 questions that I personally use when I’m meeting someone for the first time.  Most of the questions shouldn’t be too surprising to you because what you’re trying to glean from an initial conversation with someone is usually pretty standard.  However, there are two questions that I really, really love.  One of them will allow you to get an idea of what someone is truly passionate about when it comes to their business.  The other will create a powerful opportunity for you to make a real connection and begin building a lasting, mutually beneficial relationship.

Here are ten great questions to ask someone while networking that are then likely to be asked of you in return. These would be great questions to pose during your next one-to-one meeting.

1. What do you do?

2. Who’s your target market?

3. What do you like most about what you do?

4. What’s new in your business?

5. What’s the biggest challenge for you and your business?

6. What sets you apart from your competition?

7. Why did you start your business?

8. Where is your business located?

9. What’s your most popular product?

10. How do you generate most of your business?

In his book Endless Referrals, my good friend Bob Burg posed what may be the single best question we’ve heard to ask someone about what he or she does. Bob writes that the question “must be asked smoothly and sincerely, and only after some initial rapport has been established”. The question is this: ‘How can I know if someone I’m talking to is a good prospect for you?” Bob is right on the mark with this question. It separates you from the rest of the pack; it’s a question that the average person doesn’t ask. And it demonstrates one of the top ten traits of a master networker: helpfulness

Please think about what questions you ask people during an initial introduction.  Do you have any different or unusual questions which you’ve found to be particularly helpful in your conversations?  I’ve told you what questions I use and I’m very curious to hear what questions you’ve had success with, so please take a moment to share in the comment forum below.

Strategies

More Strategies to Stay in Touch

 

Last week I shared four ideas for staying in touch with people. I discussed sorting through you list then using the system they use. I recommended using social media and old-fashioned stamp and envelope snail mail.

Here are 3 more strategies that will help you improve how you can stay in touch with others.  If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.

  1. Online chat/Skype or other instant message systems. I’m not a big fan but – it’s not about me, it’s about the other person.  What are they using?  I see many people using messaging systems online?  If you want to stay connected, connect where they are.
  2. Periodic phone calls. I know, crazy idea, actually talk to people.  Your smart phone has a green button – use it.  If appropriate, set up regular calls.  My wife and her sister have done that for many years.
  3. Face to face. Don’t be a “cave dweller.”  Nothing beats actually meeting someone face to face and having a conversation.  You have to eat breakfast and lunch every day, so why not do this a few times a week with a good referral partner? You can kill two birds with one stone by strategizing with your referral partner about how to help each other over a meal.

Benign neglect is a horrible thing when it comes to building social capital.  Start today to stay in touch. Pick a few of the techniques I listed above and “touch” someone.  Hey now, keep it appropriate.

Four Strategies to Stay in Touch

People often ask me, “how can I stay in touch with people or get back in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”

Start by making a commitment to improving this area.  There’s a great Chinese proverb that I really like – “When’s the best time to plant an Oak tree?  The answer is – 20 years ago.  When’s the second best time – now!”

So, here are 4 strategies that will help you improve in this area.  If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.

  1. Sort through your list of people. You can’t stay in touch with everyone.  Who do you want to make sure to stay connected with and why?  It could be personal, it could be professional, but create a list that you want to focus on.
  2. Use the system they use! It doesn’t have to be Facebook or LinkedIn – use Pinterest or other programs, Snapchat, What’s App – whatever they use.   Each of my children uses  different systems.  If I want to connect with them – I need to go where they are.  For my oldest daughter, it’s texting or a phone call.  For my second daughter, it’s What’s App or texting.  For my son, it’s an online game called Steam.  I have some business associates who only reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn.  Others are strictly email or a phone call.  The key here – is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.
  3. Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter to your advantage by sharing news and reading updates without having to reach out to people on an individual basis. Social media is fantastic. Instead of starting your next call with, “What’s new?” you can jump to, “You cut off your hair!” “You have a new job!”
  4. From time to time, use snail mail! Yes, OMG, send a handwritten letter or a card.  It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.

Next week I will share more tips.

Remembering Names

When networking, it’s important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication–making eye contact, listening more than you speak, and of course, actually remembering people’s names.

Yeah, I’d say remembering someone’s name is high up in the list of mannerisms that will impress others in networking. It shows you pay attention to detail, you listen well and are interested in the person, not just their business.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will ensure you never forget your manners–and it actually works!

1. Repetition is key. When you are introduced to someone new, ask for their business card and read it carefully. Then, read the name on the card and ask them to repeat it; it will help lock the face with the name. “Hi! It’s great to meet you, Betsy Smith. It’s pronounced Betsy, yes?”

2. Use their name in conversation. When you begin a conversation, listen to what they are saying and respond by using their name; “Wow, Betsy, that sounds like an incredible opportunity! I’d love to sit down with you over lunch and talk more.” ID-10046846

3. Connect them with others and use their name in the introduction. You are networking after all, so it’s important to connect others if you can. Whe introducing two people, use their names when they first meet. “Joe, I’d like you to meet Betsy. Betsy is a realtor who just landed a big contract with the city. I bet you two would have a lot to talk about!”

4. Dedicate it to memory. Once you’ve left the networking event and you’re back at home or work, take out the business card and try and remember what that person looked like and what they were doing and saying. Maybe even send them a quick “nice to meet you” email to help you remember the conversation you had.

The next time your at a networking event, try to use these devices and see if it helps. If you can remember the devices, that is.

 

Conscious Men

Good friends of mine, Dr. John Gray (the author of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus) and Arjuna Ardagh, have recently released their newest novel, Conscious Men. This wonderful book highlights me, and the story of BNI, in numerous places throughout, and I’m honored to have been mentioned in their latest work. My “Village People story” and the “story of Bob” are both highlighted in this book.

To get a copy of the book, visit the promotional website here.

Check out this week’s video blog, featuring both John and Arjuna, by clicking on the graphic above, or clicking here.

Negotiating With Clients is in Your Best Interest

ID-1009160How did you determine how to price your services? One reason you may be suffering with finding new clients could be due to how much you charge. If this is the case, more than likely you’ve heard this objection from current or potential clients before. While you may not want to consider negotiating, it really is in your best interest. Here’s why:

  • If you agree to at least negotiate on a price with a potential client, they may see you as empathetic and willing to work with them. Many people allow their emotions to help decide how they will spend their money, so developing a positive rapport may help you close with a client who otherwise was considering not spending money on your services.
  • Negotiating allows you to explain to your potential client why your fee is fair for the value of service they’d receive. If they can search the internet and find others in your industry who offer similar services for cheaper, this is especially important. You know you are worth the extra money; you just have to justify it to the client.
  • While negotiating, a potential client may mention a service that you don’t offer, but your competitor does. Hearing this kind of feedback can help you later when you’re looking to expand what you offer.

In the end, some people will be impossible to negotiate with. No matter how low you go, they will never buy your service. Don’t continue to lower your prices to try to get them to use you. Remember that your business first and foremost is a way for you to earn income. Never negotiate lower than you are willing to go.

What tips do you have for negotiating your price with potential clients? Share them with us in the comments below!

The Downside of a Q&A Session

ID-10041287One of the most awkward parts of giving a presentation or lecture is the question and answer session after the main presentation. Not only is it awkward, it isn’t always necessary when it comes to business presentations.

Of course, question and answer sessions may be beneficial when you are giving a “How to” presentation, and you want to ensure your audience fully understands the topic.

Here are four reasons why a Q&A is not always your best bet:

  1. You never know what kinds of questions the audience may spring on you. You could be the most educated person in the world on insulating a home, but there is always that person who will ask a question phrased in such a way to where you don’t know how to answer them, and your credibility with the group is destroyed.
  2. Questions people ask during a Q&A portion may be better answered during a one-to-one. One of the best ways to build relationships with a contact is by spending some solo time with them, talking about what you both do and getting to know each other a bit.
  3. Q&As can be time drains. Sometimes people do ask valuable questions during a Q&A, but many times the process of getting people to ask questions, and having some questions asked just be duplicates of each other, can really kill an event agenda.
  4. Your Q&A is not an open forum. Sometimes, audiences will use a Q&A time to air grievances, complain, express difficulties, etc., but this is definitely not the time that you would want to address issues like these.

When you conclude a presentation, you should encourage your audience to speak to you after with any questions or one-to-one requests. This will give you an opportunity to hear questions, and address them individually, while developing relationships with potential contacts.

Why You Shouldn’t Always Follow the Golden Rule

ID-10040850What I’m about to tell you will seem counter-intuitive at first, but bear with me.

The Golden Rule is not the best way to ensure success in referral marketing. For those unfamiliar with this philosophy, it is commonly known as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While it is a good principle to live by, a great one even, this doesn’t help you in networking or referral marketing.

Instead, you should consider implementing the Platinum Rule in your networking efforts. This, put simply, is treating others the way they would like to be treated. Referral marketing is closely linked with relationships, and what better way to develop a relationship than adjusting how you treat someone to their wants and needs?

There are three people involved in a referral: You, the referral source, and the prospective referral. All three of these people come into play when you consider how to implement the Platinum Rule.

You. How do you work best? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The referral source. How does the person communicate best, or like to be communicated with? How do they like to be treated? If you expect someone to pass a referral to you, you must communicate with them in a way that they appreciate and in a way that works well for them.

The prospect. How does the prospect like to be communicated with? What sales tactics work on the prospect? If you expect to close on the referral passed to you, you must be willing and able to communicate effectively with the prospect.

In the end, a networker’s greatest asset is their ability to be adaptable. You must always be willing to accommodate the people you are striving to develop relationships with – your comfort is not nearly as important as theirs.

What is an example of the Platinum Rule at work in your relationships? Let me know in the comments below.

Tips and Tools of the Trade…Show

For most business professionals, a trade show in your field is a great opportunity to get out and meet other professionals who own or work for businesses similar to yours. Here, you can garner new ideas to bring home with you and make your business better, receive valuable feedback on what you’re currently doing from other professionals, and possibly develop relationships and connections with people who may help you grow your business as part of a Power Team.

ID-10069835While trade shows can be extremely beneficial, they can only really help you if you go into it prepared and ready to grow. As the new year began, many organizations begin promoting their 2016 trade shows, and I’m sure countless of you have already registered for one, if not multiple.

Before you go, consider some of these do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your trade show experience.

DO research the multiple trade shows happening in your field for the year before making the final decision on which to attend. While you can attend more than one, you should only attend as many as will benefit you. Talk to contacts whom you know have attended a specific trade show in the past to get their feedback, do a quick Google search, and always read all of the promotional brochures you can get your hands on. 

DON’T go to the trade show without a specific goal in mind. Want to meet someone who can give you advise on using social media to hit your target market? Looking to build a relationship with someone who has been in the field 20 years longer than you have? Going in with a specific goal can go a long way.

DO become familiar with the layout of the space that the trade show will be in. You can identify quickly if there are certain booths you’d like to make sure you hit, and perhaps even mold your own booth to fit in (or better, stand out) from those positioned near you.

DON’T just hang out by one booth, or if you’re working the show, your booth. You can’t expect your potential contacts to come to you. We never expect this in our day-to-day business, so why would we expect this at a business convention with hundreds of busy professionals, all with their own businesses and goals in mind?

DO make sure you get to as many seminars that make sense for you, and attend group activities. You’re there to make contacts and get to know others in your field, or in the fields represented at the trade show. Don’t waste your time at the show by not circulating and getting to know people.

DON’T forget the follow up! Meeting someone in the first place is only have the battle. You have to actually follow up with them after that initial introduction to really begin to establish a meaningful relationship.

DO go into the trade show with an open mind, and a willingness to both learn and teach.

Are you planning to attend any trade shows this year? What are your goals for them? Share with me in the comments below!

So You Want to Network Up?

Earlier this week, I appeared on Copy Chief with Kevin Rogers as a special guest to talk all about referral marketing. If you missed it, you can check out the whole podcast here, but today I would like to specifically elaborate on one segment from the podcast.

tam-48-ivan-misner-copy-chief

Around the 20-minute mark, I tell a story about a man named Mark who invested a lot of time and energy to develop our relationship. By the time he turned around and asked me for a favor, a least a year after we had met and begun our relationship, I was so appreciative of everything he had done for me that I was willing to do whatever favor he asked for.

You need to be interested, not interesting. People don’t want you to sell to them, they want you to be interested in investing in them. If you’re networking up, or trying to network with someone very successful, you need to find a way to stand out. You need to make that powerful person want to help you, by expecting nothing in return.

So how do you do that? It isn’t one of those things that you can just do overnight, or wake up one day and decide you’re going to develop a relationship with someone.

First and foremost, you have to have an idea. A great idea. An idea that you can implement and it will positively impact the person you hope to build a relationship with. Something helpful, something that that person cannot do themselves. This idea should set you apart, and should be unique to both you, and to your future contact.

Once you have developed your idea – and I mean fully developed; you can’t go to someone with a half-baked plan in your head – you need to reach out to the person that your idea benefits. Handwritten notes can make you stand apart. Emails and social media messages can work, but often will not help you stand apart, and depending on the person they may not be managing their own accounts. A well thought out handwritten note may be your best bet.

From there, your strategy relies strongly on your idea and the person you are working to help. To hear me discuss some other related topics, check out the podcast with Kevin Rogers on Copy Chief here.

Marketing Your Business for the Holidays

holidayAre you taking advantage of the holiday season when it comes to marketing your business? You should be! Festive posts really attract audiences who are feeling sentimental, or those who are looking for some services specifically around the holiday season.

Marketing for the holidays doesn’t mean adding a few snowflakes to your Facebook page, and seasonal networking doesn’t mean drinking egg nog with a contact you haven’t spoken to all year. Instead what this means is utilizing the season to show others how much you appreciate them, whether you appreciate their business or their support. Get small gifts for your clients, send out a sweet holiday-appropriate email blast, or even mail a card via snail mail. People love feeling like they’re being appreciated, and it really does increase your reputation with them to show those feelings.

Other ways to take advantage of the holiday season is to offer discounts or other offers to customers who follow your social media. Announce on your Facebook that you will have free shipping on all orders placed between a certain time frame, or say when someone makes an appointment for your service, if they use the phrase “Happy New Year” they get a discount. There are plenty of ways to get creative around the holiday season.

How do you market and network during the holiday season? Share with me in the comments below!

Network Your Way Into a New Job

ID-100244639In so many industries, landing a job is all about who you know – whether you define a job as a new client in your business, or a complete career change. People want to work with someone that they know, or someone that a person they know is familiar with. That being said, you can often network your way into a job. I often speak on using networking to expand your business, so this time we’ll take the route of a change in career.

First and foremost, never go into a conversation with a new or seasoned contact expecting a job offer or possibility to come out of it. When was the last time you offered or agreed to help someone who expected your help unconditionally? Not only that, but it is rare that all of your contacts will readily have opportunities that they know of to refer you to. Going into a networking event expecting a lead for a new opportunity will leave you disappointed.

Your primary goal should be to ask for career advice from trusted contacts who you admire. These people may be able to answer questions you have, give suggestions for how you can get where you want to be, and perhaps introduce you to new connections who maybe able to help you, too. Alternatively, they may shed light on aspects of a career that you had’t taken into account, which may cause you to reconsider your goals.

Have you ever networked your way into a new job? How did you use your network? Let me know in the comments below!

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