Seeking Engagement: A Critical Step for Networking Groups

Engagement involves a promise and an action.  In order to achieve success in your group of networking relationships, you and your relationships must promise to support one another and then 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 taken the time to educate them regularly on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top of mind in the event they meet someone with a need for what you supply?  Have you taken the time to become educated on the key features of your networking relationships’ businesses so that you can do the same?

The higher the number of people in your network who are engaged in these activities, the more likely it is that the entire group will be generating more referrals.  The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

Another way to be actively engaged and educated about each others’ businesses is to do regular and consistent meetings.  Over and over, I see that business owners who have regular one-to-one meetings with their business networking relationships tend to both give AND get more referrals.

Lastly, are you focusing on your “elevator pitch”?  The best way to ensure your referral sources are going to remember what you do is to focus on communicating your business to them by breaking it down into laser-specific elements.  Sharp-shoot your pitch, don’t shotgun it.  In each of your regular one-to-one meetings, talk about one key element, product, or benefit of what you do.

According to Psychology Today, research has found that people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not.  Furthermore, they state that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values of the organization, and recognition.”  There’s research behind my recommending reciprocal engagement between you and your referral partners.  In fact, it’s critical to your success–and theirs.

This week, think about new ways in which you can support your networking partners in order to promote engagement within your networking group.  I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

 

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

Training Referral Sources to Generate Referrals for You

If you interact with your clients, customers, referral sources, and contacts with a referral mind-set, show them that you are a giver, help others, and continually and strategically give referrals, you’re modeling the behavior you want others to exhibit toward you.  By itself, however, that’s not enough to train them to give you referrals.

Contacts who are not involved in your strong-contact network may not be aware of what is involved  in the kind of true referral networking that you are conducting.  Often you will have to coach them as you go, letting them know exactly what you are doing, why you are doing it, and what they may expect from your efforts.

Let’s say you’ve heard about a colleague whose stolen credit cards have been used to run up some big charges: “Stephanie, I’ve been talking with a colleague about your identity-theft problem and have arranged for him to send you a number of internet links that will help you quickly straighten out your credit problems.  I also know a lawyer who specializes in this field.  Would you like for me to contact him for you?  I hope you’ll keep me updated on your progress, and let me know if there’s any other way I can help.”

Similarly, if you’re passing a referral to an untrained but potentially valuable referral partner, let him know exactly what you’re doing and suggest ways he can reciprocate: “Jim, I know a specialist who provides the exact services you say you need.  I’ve known him for fifteen years and have used him many times.  He’s good, and he’s trustworthy.  May I ask him to call you?  And by the way, if you know a general contractor who constructs steel-frame buildings in the Valley and can use the new kind of fasteners I sell, would you please consider giving me a referral?”

By talking openly about what you’re doing, you’re not only modeling the behavior you want from your potential referral partner, you’re getting him to think about it, which is an essential part of learning.  You’re also asking him to practice it in a way that will help him repeat the behavior later.  It’s not a guarantee that he will reciprocate, but it makes it more likely that he will get the idea and respond in kind–at first, out of simple gratitude; later, out of the realization that a continuing referral relationship is good business for both of you.

One of the best ways to train a referral source is to go to a professional referral-training seminar and take your source with you.  This way, you will both be trained by an expert and will be speaking the same language–the language of referrals.

If you have an additional tactic for training referral sources to generate referrals for you, I’d love to hear it.  Please share it in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Who’s In Your Room? – A Personal Story

A few years ago my company was in the midst of one of the largest projects in the history of our organization.  The project involved many people—it was very complex and financially challenging.  It was also in trouble.  I needed to select a key player for the project team.  The man I chose had incredibly strong technical skills.  He was very qualified for the project and was the perfect person to help turn this around . . . or so I thought.  I knew he came with a lot of baggage.  He didn’t always play well with others, he would fly off the handle emotionally when talking to people and, worst of all, he brought an immense amount of drama to the workplace.  On the other hand he was highly qualified for the work. Based on those qualifications, I hired him as manager. I suspected there would be problems with the drama and the outbursts – however, I felt I could coach him and guide him through this.

It turns out I was wrong.  Monumentally wrong. 

Despite his incredible technical skills, his behavior more than offset his technical strengths.  The project went from problematic to horrific within a year.  It was way over budget, well behind schedule, and not nearly the quality that I expected.   Around this time, one of the project team members told me that the best thing the project manager could do for a meeting was to call in sick!  The team member said when the manager was not there they got a lot more done.

Right about that time, I attended a presentation that Stewart Emery did where he talked about the concept of “Who’s in Your Room?”.  I walked out of that presentation and decided right then and there that this project leader should have never been in my room.  I also realized that getting him out of the room was going to be very difficult.  Why?  Because he kept everything close to the vest.  Most of the people in the project didn’t understand or know many of the aspects of the work, because this project leader didn’t collaborate or share information freely.  I understood that removing him from the room was going to be difficult and painful.  But I was clear on the reality that it had to be done.

It ended up taking months to lay the ground work with everyone on the team by me personally engaging them in pieces of the project they needed to know but weren’t privy to with this manager.  I had to drop many of my normal responsibilities and devote an immense amount of time to this process.  I promoted some people and moved others around.  When all was ready, I made the move and let go of the project leader.  There was an immediate and palpable change in the project.  Today it has made incredible strides, and it is becoming exactly the product that I was hoping for and it is something I am proud of as an entrepreneur.

The lesson I learned in this very expensive and very stressful process was this: be very selective about who you let in your room.  Don’t allow people in just because of their technical skills.  I want a work environment that is a “drama-free” zone and I pick people for my organization who I want in my room.  I now try to select qualified people who fit the organizational culture of collaboration, people who share information and knowledge and people who don’t bring to the process an Emmy Award winning soap opera of behaviors.

Have you experienced this phenomenon?  If so, please tell us about it in the comment forum below and, also, please share any thoughts you have on Stewart’s Who’s in Your Room concept. Thanks!

Have You Been Overlooking This Important Step in Your Networking Efforts?

I recorded this video a few years back for an organization interested in learning about business networking and when I ran across it last week, I thought it would be good information to share here as what I discuss is still just as important as ever.

If you don’t know what a Contact Sphere is, I urge you to watch this short video because developing a Contact Sphere is one of the most important steps in business networking.  After watching the video, think about who might be a good fit for you in creating a Contact Sphere and if you have questions, please leave them in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have and, also, if you’ve already developed a Contact Sphere, please share your thoughts on how it has helped you to grow your business.

What Does a Mountain Bike Have to Do with Networking? A Lot, Actually . . .

In this quick video, Referral Institute® Partner & President Mike Macedonio, who is also a good friend of mine and an avid mountain biker, explains an excellent metaphor he came up with about mountain biking and networking. 

Not only does Mike do a great job of explaining how aspects of mountain biking are very similar to networking, he also manages to do something that’s quite remarkable . . . he talks me into getting on a mountain bike ! 😉

After watching the video, ask yourself about your own networking group–does it have all the key components to function and gain momentum like a well-built, lasting mountain bike?

Also, I’m really interested in hearing any networking metaphors you’ve come up with during your networking career--I’ve heard some very creative ones over the years and they always get me thinking so I love hearing new ones.  Please share your ideas in the comments section . . . who knows? . . . I might just be asking you to do a future guest blog!

The ABCs of Networking–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

(Part 6 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

TR Garland (featured in this video with me) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute.

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Six months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 6 of the series.  in short video format.  Enjoy!

Please let us know what you think of the video by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks!


“Money on the Table”–How to Generate More Referrals for Networking Partners

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GpIfb-ymqU[/tube]

If you’re not familiar with Power Teams or Contact Spheres, they are two things that any networker aiming for maximum networking results will want to get very familiar with.

I have just released a new book with my co-author, Lee Abraham, called Money on the Table which is all about how to use Power Teams and Contact Spheres to generate more referrals for your networking partners.  Why should you take the time to learn how to get more referrals for those in your network?  Because this will ultimately pay off in more referrals for you and maximum results for your networking efforts.

In this short video, Lee and I talk a little bit about our new book and why we wrote it and we also explain a simple, quick exercise that will get you on the road to making the most of your network and generating more referrals for you and your networking partners.  So, grab a sheet of paper and a pen before clicking the play button–there are six bullet points you’ll definitely want to jot down.

After you’ve watched the video and done the quick networking exercise, come back and leave us a comment about what you thought of it.  We’d love to hear your thoughts!

To purchase a copy of Money on the Table, CLICK HERE.

Talk ‘To’ Each Other, Not ‘About’ Each Other

An important and invaluable lesson I’ve learned over the years is that clear, open, honest, direct communication with people solves most problems. So often I have seen relationships deteriorate to the point where people are talking “about” each other instead of talking “to” each other.

This can happen more easily than you might think.  For most people, when things don’t go the way they expect in a relationship, the tendency is to talk to EVERYONE they know EXCEPT the person they have the problem with.  Someone once told me that when you point your finger at someone, you have three more fingers pointing back at you–this is very true!

So, my advice (which–trust me–is based on years of experience and learning the hard way) when it comes to strengthening and maintaining healthy relationships, particularly relationships with your referral partners, is to talk “to” each other not “about” each other. If you have a problem with someone in your life, pick up the phone and call them right now.  Ask to meet and talk to them about your concerns and, most importantly, how you can both resolve the challenges or issues you’re experiencing and get back to a positive place in the relationship.  Stay “solutions focused”–don’t even attempt to get into the “blame game.”

Now that I’ve explained my perspective which is a result of my experience, I’d like to ask you–the BusinessNetworking.com blog readers–about your experience.

Tell me about a time in your life when you  either spoke to someone and ended up working out your issue(s) OR, about a time when you didn’t and the issue(s) in your relationship got worse and worse.  You’re among friends . . . both situations have happened to the best of us. 😉

Do You Want To Become a Best-Selling Author? Here’s Your Chance. . .

I’m working on a new project with Nick Nanton, Esq., The Celebrity Lawyer, which gives small business owners, entrepreneurs, and businesspeople around the world the opportunity to establish themselves as experts in their field by achieving best-selling author status.

We recorded a call outlining the details of the project last month and you can listen to the call for free by clicking here.  If you have ever been interested in becoming a best-selling author, I highly encourage you to listen to the call today as registration for participation in the project ends this Friday (3-25-11).

One of the reasons I chose to become involved with this project is because I firmly believe that being recognized as a best-selling author is a highly effective way for businesspeople to establish credibility as an expert in their field and drive business, and I wanted to be a part of an initiative that helps give people this opportunity.  I also think that Nick Nanton is the perfect person to partner with in a project of this nature because of his experience and his background in promoting hundreds of authors to best-seller status.

Nick is known as The Celebrity Lawyer and Agent to the top Celebrity Experts for his role in developing and marketing business and professional experts, through personal branding, to help them gain credibility and recognition for their accomplishments.  He is recognized as one of the top thought leaders in the business world and has co-authored 8 best-selling books, including Celebrity Branding You!®.  Nick has led the marketing and PR campaigns that have driven more than 100 authors to best-selling status.

If you’d like to find out more about this opportunity, listen to the free recording of the call. You will learn how you can:

  • Become a Best-Selling Author
  • Position Yourself Above Your Competition
  • Use Your Best-Seller Status in Your Marketing to Grow Your Business
  • Use a Book to Drive Traffic and Lead-Generation on Your Website
  • Repurpose Your Content to Get Business Even from People Who Don’t Buy or Read Your Book
  • And More

CLICK HERE to listen to the free recorded call now.

The End is Near!

No, not the end of the world, silly . . . I’m talking about the end of the recession. Recently, I wrote about “Business Looking up in 2011” which was based on a survey of over 5,000 businesspeople and entrepreneurs at www.BNIBusinessIndex.com.  The survey was a global survey that was taken by people from every populated continent in the world.

The survey found that almost 68% of the respondents say that business is growing or growing dramatically compared to this time a year ago.  What the survey doesn’t explain is why those businesses are growing.

I have a few thoughts, based on my observations recently, which may shed some light on this and also provide insight into how you can grow your business:

  • Innovation in adversity is a key factor. I know a commercial real estate broker in Southern California who said that he had his best year ever in 2010 (and he’s been in business for 26 years).  He cited the fact that he did dozens and dozens of one-to-ones during the year to find ways to work together with other businesses.  His opening approach was to help them.  However, at the same time, it built his business in the process.  This is counter-intuitive to most commercial real estate people he told me.
  • It all starts with attitude.  A product sales company in the UK was about to do layoffs to meet payroll.  One of the sales reps wrote on the whiteboard – “we refuse to participate in the recession.”   Everyone in the office signed it.  They ended up with their best month all year and no one was laid off!
  • Look for new or emerging opportunities.  I met a residential Real Estate agent on the East Coast of the U.S. who told me he had his best year ever last year.  He said he went to investors he’s worked with in the past and told them that “real estate is on sale!”  He said to them, “don’t be one of those people who come to me in a few years and say… “I was crazy not to look at these opportunities.  I should have bought back in 2010!”  He told me this strategy has helped him sell more than any year in recent memory.
  • Be creative with your offers.  I recently met a business coach in the mid-west of the U.S. who created a guarantee for his coaching.  He said, if you follow my weekly coaching program and you don’t raise your income to at least six figures, I’ll continue to coach you for free until you do.  He said it has dramatically increased his sales and has not had to provide any clients with free coaching yet.

If you have any insights / observations about the current upward slope of business or outside-the-box tips on how to boost business despite a challenging economy, please leave a comment and share your thoughts.

50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

I am excited to announce that this blog was listed as #26 in the list of “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs”!

Here’s what they said:

“Networking Entrepreneur: Even if you think you’re a pro at networking, check this blog for new tips and strategies as your business grows. Recommended Posts: Make No Assumptions and Clueless When It Comes To Conversing? Four Tips

The list, published by OEDb (Online Education Database), was created as a resource for young entrepreneurs who are looking to learn some basic business principles and discover how to communicate and collaborate in the real world before finding success.  Divided into categories (“Tools & Resources,” “Inspiration & Testimonials,” “Tips & Education,” “Industry News,” and Insights “From Young Entrepreneurs”), the list presents the top blogs that will help you communicate, collaborate, master the science of SEO and social media marketing, shake hands like a professional, and more.

Young entrepreneur or not, this list contains a cornucopia of excellent links that will provide you with an endless amount of useful information.

I’m honored to be included in this list of the “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs” and I encourage all of my blog readers to check out the list and explore the great (and FREE)  information that’s out there to help contribute to your success!

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