You are not entitled to referrals

That’s right-you read correctly.

Referrals come from cultivating real relationships. They come from putting the work into your networking by giving others referrals before expecting them in return. They don’t come from sitting idly in a meeting, watching others getting referrals and wondering where yours are.

Are you wondering just how to get that referral pipe flowing?

1. Become a farmer. Except you’re not cultivating seeds, but relationships. You’re not harvesting produce, but referrals. Networking is about farming for new contacts (and referrals,) not hunting them. Have One-to-Ones with your chapter members. Get to know them and their business well so you can begin to pass referrals to them. This is how you cultivate a relationship-show genuine interest and make an honest attempt at helping them succeed. You’ll build trust with one another, which makes the next step much easier.  referral

2. Find a referral partner. As I write in my book, Truth or Delusion, “There is a way to the flow of referrals predicable and adjustable.” After you’ve gotten to know your fellow chapter members, choose one to partner up with to pass referrals back and forth to one another. Pick someone who needs referrals you can provide (for example, if you have a toy shop owner in your Chapter but you have no kids and rarely interact with them, they might not be the best partner for you.) Determine what types of referrals you need and ask your partner to do the same; then, exchange specific referrals based on your own networks. Begin to set up meetings with your referrals and if it’s appropriate, bring your partner with you. Afterward, analyze the meetings with your partner and use as much detail as possible.

3. Get your PH.D. in Networking. Ok, not literally. But you can become a gatekeeper of networks as you begin to connect your network with another person’s, and then another person’s, and then continue to build upon it. Become the go-to person in your business community-the person others come to if they needed a referral for anything. “Know a trustworthy plumber? Yeah, ask Susan-she knows everybody!” But instead of becoming the human phone book, you are connecting people in your community with good, honest businesses. This will not only help you build your network referrals, but it will also force you to continue to build and deepen your relationships and provide you with an excellent reputation.

What process has worked for you when referral gathering?

 

Can You Quantify How You Strengthen Your Network?

connectionsHow are you tracking your business success? You’re probably not, which is fine, but can make it extremely difficult to not only expect, but quantify, growth and success. You’d be surprised the number of businesspeople I talk to from all industries who say they want to grow their business, but when I ask by how much, they simply stare at me. Even worse are the stares I get when I ask what they have actively done to grow your business.

You cannot expect change and growth without actively working to strength your network and business. It simply won’t happen.

Most people can name specific things they do to improve their skill at a hobby they are passionate about, but so rarely is that passion carried over into their own business. Below is a list of quantifiable things you can do to strength your network, improve relationships with referral partners, and ultimately help foster the growth of your business.

How many can you check off? Let me know in the comments!

  • Send a Thank You card – but make sure it is handwritten!
  • Call to check in
  • Arrange a 1-to-1
  • Offer a referral to someone without them having to ask for one
  • Include them in a regular newsletter for your company
  • Send an article of interest to your contact
  • Set up a group activity to bring together your networks
  • Attend a networking event (and bring someone with you!)
  • Display your partner’s brochure or flyer at your business

You should aim to do one to two of these things a week to consistently be developing your relationships with your network. And, of course, there are plenty of things you could do that aren’t on this list. What could you add?

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!

To Connect or Not to Connect, That is the LinkedIn Question

linkedinLinkedIn is an extremely powerful tool to help you grow your network and your business. Unfortunately, it is also a network that many can abuse. There are social networking tactics that work perfectly on Twitter and Facebook that flop on LinkedIn, and vice versa.

One huge mistake is forgoing importing your email contacts into LinkedIn. The vast majority of your business contacts are likely on LinkedIn, and if you aren’t already connected to them, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. By connecting with your email contacts, you can endorse their skills and perhaps be endorsed in return, automatically receive updates when they change something in their profile, and learn more about them professionally.

On endorsing skills, have you gone through your contacts an endorsed everyone for at least one skill? If you are connected with someone on LinkedIn and you don’t know enough about them to be able to endorse them for at least one skill, that is a red flag that you aren’t fully utilizing that contact. I recommend reaching out to them and asking if they have time to schedule a one-to-one. Your goal is to learn enough about them, and identify enough about their skillset to feel comfortable endorsing them. If you feel like you don’t know them well enough to endorse them, likely they feel the same about you.

Update your profile’s summary to one clear, concise sentence that defines your current career trajectory. Help your contacts help you by making it clear, both in the real world and the digital world, what a good referral for you is.

The occasional status update is good, too. Say you write a blog for your business, or read a particularly interesting trade piece. These are great things to share and to start conversations with your contacts. Be aware, though, on LinkedIn, it is very easy to cross the line between just enough and too many updates. You should strive for just a few updates a week, as people tend to log into LinkedIn a lot less than other networks.

Search through the connections that your contacts have, and see if there is anyone you may ask to be introduced to. Your network’s network is a tool that you have at your disposal, just know how to access it in the best way. Perhaps a contact you’ve known for 10 years is connected with someone that you had always wanted to meet. Reach out to your contact and see if they would be willing to make the introduction. It never hurts to ask.

How do you use LinkedIn? Are there any LinkedIn suggestions you think are vital that I’ve missed? Share them in the comments below!

Five Easy Ways You May be Networking Wrong

wrongnetworkingNo matter how much practice you have networking, there are always ways that you can improve. I’ve noticed a few common mistakes with networking that you can easily fix to get the most out of your relationships.

 

1 – You’re showing up late to a networking event, meeting or one-to-one.

This should be a no-brainer, but so often someone will slip into the back of a meeting five, ten or thirty minutes after it has started. How many times have you gotten a text from someone saying they were running late? Or, worse, not gotten a text at all? Such a minor issue can leave long-lasting negative ramifications in your personal and professional relationship. Avoid it, and leave to your meetings or events aiming to arrive early.

 

2 – You’re giving the appearance of untrustworthiness.

No matter what anyone says, your outward appearance can and will affect how you are perceived by potential business connections. If your first impression of someone involves their messed up hair, wrinkled pants, and an overall disheveled look, you’re not going to want to do business with them. That being said, would you expect someone to work with you if that was their first impression? Get your act together, iron your shirt, and always be prepared with your name tag and smile.

 

3 – You’re not making meaningful connections.

A referral-based relationship is more than just, “I do business, you do business, let’s do business together.” It is important to establish real relationships with your connections to encourage a long-lasting, prosperous relationship. If you’re only talking shop, you’re selling yourself short.

 

4 – You’re only thinking about your own gain.

You simply cannot expect to get anything out of a referral relationship if all you care about is getting something for yourself. Your connections will be more likely to give you business if you show your willingness to help them. Learn to use the law of reciprocity, and see your networking efforts become prosperous.

 

5 – You’re forgetting the follow up.

Most businesspeople love working with someone who is considerate, and your follow up etiquette is an easy way to show just how considerate you can be. Bonus points, your follow up technique can leave a lasting impression on someone who may have not thought you were memorable. Remember, thoughtfulness always counts in the end.

 

Are you offending any of these networking commandments? Did I forget any cardinal mistakes? Join the discussion in the comment field below.

Networking is a Contact Sport

Networking is a Contact SportMany entrepreneurs belong to networking organizations, but they simply don’t know how to effectively get a return on that investment of time.  Thoughtful engagement is the answer.  Engagement is an absolutely critical step in the networking process.  It involves a promise and an action.  In order to achieve success with your networking partners, you must promise to support one another, and then you must take the action necessary to fulfill that promise.  The only way to do that effectively is to connect on a deeper level than you do with most of your business contacts.

There are several ways that you can become more engaged with your networking partners:

  1. Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network on a one-to-one basis?  This means setting up times outside the context of any normal meetings and getting to know them on a deeper, professional level.
  2. Have you taken the time to educate them regularly on the key elements 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 do?
  3. Have you taken the time to become educated on the key elements of your networking partners’ businesses, so that you can do the same for them?
  4. Have you visited their offices to get first-hand understanding of their services?
  5. If possible, have you used their products or services to get first-hand knowledge of the quality their products or the services they provide?

Networking truly is a “contact sport.”  It involves full engagement in order to get solid results. In fact, research has shown that reciprocal engagement in a business relationship results in higher productivity.  According to Psychology Today, people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not.  Furthermore, they say that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values… and recognition.”   Effective networking is all about building meaningful relationships that include most, if not all of these characteristics.

Every time I hear someone talk about how networking didn’t work for them – I discover it’s because they have never done a deep-dive on the relationship building process relating to their networking.  Most of their networking activities were very superficial.  Or worse yet – it mostly involved an attempt at direct selling.  Networking is not a face-to-face, cold-calling opportunity!  When it’s done right, it’s about building long-term meaningful relationships.  In fact, networking is more about “farming” than it is about “hunting.”  It’s about the slow process of cultivating long-term, professional relationships.  Over time, this long-term process gives you the opportunity harvest a substantial amount of business, but it only happens with full engagement in the relationship process.

Spend some time thinking about new ways you can support your networking partners.  This will help you promote engagement with them in the various networking groups to which you belong.  You will find it is time most well spent.

Thoughtfulness always counts

Many spend their time at a networking event working the room, making meaningful connections with those around them, receiving and handing out business cards. As the event winds down, businesspeople go their separate ways, looking forward to their next event to grow their network.

It’s a nice story, but it really only covers part of your responsibility as a networker. Thoughtful, heartfelt follow up after events continues establishing those connections and makes your networking stronger. Your connections don’t have to be your best friends, but it certainly helps if they think you’re a caring person.

For those wondering, “Am I a thoughtful networker?” here is a quick checklist of three ways to be thoughtful. If you don’t already, try implementing these into your networking route.

 

handwritingSend handwritten cards

Thank you, happy birthday, condolences. There are plenty of excuses to bust out the stationary and send a handwritten card to a colleague or peer instead of an email. What makes this thoughtful? This effort involved. Emails are simple – you sat at your computer, typed a quick message, scanned it for typos and made necessary connections, and hit send. Done. Handwriting a card requires thinking through your message before you write it, and requires your attention to prevent errors. Not only that, but sending requires more than a click of a button.

 

Remember to follow up

Did you close your conversation with someone by saying, “Let me ask so-and-so about that and get back to you”? If you did, actually do it! You might forget that you promised to find out some trivial piece of information for them, but they certainly didn’t. Nothing could be more embarrassing for you than being called out for having forgotten to follow up on something you’d given your word that you would. As networkers, one of our greatest assets is our word – don’t let something as minor as a memory lapse steal yours.

 

Schedule time outside regular networking events to get to know them

This may seem like Networking 101, but it seems to be a frequently forgotten step of networking. Not only is it vital in helping you get to know your business connections (and vice versa), many will be flattered that you are interested in getting to know them better. Not only is this step thoughtful, it is critical if you want your connections to truly help you grow your business. People love to talk about themselves, and the more you learn about the new members of your network, the more they’ll want to know about you in turn.

What does thoughtfulness in networking mean to you? How many of the above steps do you do? What do you think is missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Networking is a fad

Networking is a fad. As is oxygen, indoor plumbing, and sliced bread.

Alright, we all know networking is far from a fad. Ask any successful business person today their stance on networking, and they will have plenty of positive things to say. Maybe a few decades ago, businesspeople said that networking was just the latest craze, but now in 2015 we cannot avoid it.

In my book “Truth or Delusion,” which I co-authored with Mike Macedonio and Mike Garrison, I discuss how referral marketing, networking, word of mouth, and social capital, or just learning how to connect with other people in meaningful ways, is a cornerstone to business. But not just business – successful business.

You can literally network anywhere, despite the common misconception that networking is for work events only. Even places that may not seem like networking opportunities, like a child’s play date, can turn into an opportunity to grow your Power Sphere when your daughter’s friend’s mom is a plumber and you’re an electrician.

perfectpraticeFor those who networking doesn’t come easy, in business it is imperative that you continue striving to perfect your networking game. The saying “practice makes perfect” comes into play here, but not how you might expect. This saying is only half true. In actuality, only perfect practice makes perfect.

I once heard a music teacher tell his students, “Lousy practice makes a lousy musician.” The same is true for networking; you can practice day in and day out networking the wrong way, and what will happen is you will just get really good at incorrectly networking. Perhaps even perfect at it. Perfect practice, however, will back up strong networking habits.

Perfect practice is as easy as reviewing with yourself or a close business confidant after networking attempts. What strategies did you use? Did you make a lasting impression on those you interacted with? How many people made an impression on you? Despite what you may think, others networking well does play into the effectiveness of your attempts. Never forget that networking is a two-way street.

What are some networking myths that you have encountered in your career? Join the discussion and share your comments in the form below!

What Is Your Intent? Do You Know Your Purpose?

Photo courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of Boykung at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

All great teachers assert the importance of having intent and purpose in our lives.  According to Benjamin Disraeli, “The secret of success is constancy of purpose.”  Before you go into a networking scenario, make sure you know your purpose.  If your underlying pupose is to exploit the group, you will communicate differently, both verbally and nonverbally, than if you intend to give to the group.  You expect an eventual return, of course, but a good networker goes in with the immediate benefit of others uppermost in mind.

We are, at most times in our lives, a dynamic mixture of intentions.  We seek to do good for others, and at the same time we seek personal benefits in many different forms.  When we attend networking events, our attention instinctively and constantly jumps from situation to situation, searching for opportunities that favor us.  To fix your intention firmly on benefitting others, it is useful to organize your thoughts before the event by formulating, in writing, a clear statement of your main purpose–a mission statement.  Focusing on your number-one priority helps you push your many other impulses into the background.

With your attention and intentions focused, you will communicate clearly and unambiguously your willingness to help others solve problems and satisfy needs.  You will be more self-confident and open to the messages of others, and they will sense it and be attracted to you.  Your message will foster trust and rapport with your networking partners, enabling you to establish and strengthen mutually beneficial relationships.

For the networker, the most authentic message of all is this: “I would like to be your friend, and for you to be my friend.  I think we will both benefit from it.  And I want to start this friendship by doing something to help you.”  If you communicate this orientation toward others in all possible ways, with integrity, you will easily form valuable, rewarding, long-lasting networking relationships.

What have you personally found to be an effective tactic in relaying your genuine networking intent/purpose?  Please share your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The Number One Way to Totally Fail at Networking

Who spends countless hours networking hoping to fail and see no results from their efforts?  That’s right, no one!  So, it blows my mind that I commonly see people single-handedly sabotaging their success–they guarantee their own failure by failing to follow up with the contacts they make.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s a story I was once told by one of my employees which perfectly demonstrates this and I’d like to share it with you here . . . (Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent . . . and the guilty.)

My employee, whom we’ll call Winnifred (since she’d like to remain anonymous and it’s the most unfitting name for her that I can think of . . . well, aside from maybe Gertrude ;-)), was in need of a graphic designer to assist her with the creation of a website for her father’s business. She attended a local networking mixer where she met a graphic designer, “Blake,” who seemed excited about the project and claimed he could accomplish exactly what she needed at a very reasonable price.

They exchanged contact information and connected the next week by phone to discuss the project in further detail. Winnifred was pleased with Blake’s ideas and liked the examples she’d seen of his work. She told him he seemed like the perfect person to help her with the project and that she’d like him to send her a price quote as soon as possible.

A week went by and Winnifred heard nothing from Blake.  When she called him, he said he was working on a quote and gave some lame excuse about being busy. Another week went by and, again, nothing from Blake. Frustrated, but willing to give Blake another chance because she really did like his work, she sent him an e-mail and left him a voicemail saying that she would love to give him her business and was really anxious to hear back from him.

After two weeks went by without hearing back from him, Winnifred found another graphic designer. To this day, Blake has never responded.

Here is what floors me . . . I know for a fact that this guy, “Blake,” is still frequenting local networking mixers (which cost money to attend, by the way) trying to drum up more business. Yet when he had money practically sitting on the table in front of him, he failed to follow through. No matter what his reason was for not getting back to Winnifred–being too busy, too lazy or whatever else–he shouldn’t be out there networking if he can’t follow through on what he claims to be able to deliver. He’s wasting his time (and money) and, more important, he’s wasting other people’s time–which is earning him nothing more than a bad name.

The moral of this story: If you aren’t prepared to follow through, networking is no more than a big waste of time.

If you have a “Blake the Flake” story of your own, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.

3 Tips for Putting the Butterfly Effect of Networking in Motion

IvanRichardBethSome years back, I posted a blog detailing how my introduction to Richard Branson was completely the result of the Butterfly Effect of Networking.  In thinking about that blog post, it occurred to me that an important part of the reason I was able to make such effective and rewarding networking connections was the way that I thought about, and therefore went about networking. Here’s what I mean by that . . .

While it’s important to know the right things to do while networking, it’s equally important to start thinking the right way to make your networking efforts as successful and dynamic as they can be. This involves altering your mind-set. Here is an up-close look at some elements you’ll want to include in your mind-set to ensure networking success:

  1. The law of reciprocity or Givers Gain® approach.

Don’t approach networking thinking ‘I did this for you, now what are you going to do for me?’ Instead, remember the old adage Give and you shall receive? The law of reciprocity takes the focus off of what you stand to gain from the networking relationship, and in doing so, creates bonds based on trust and friendship. Put it to the test. You’ll be amazed by the outcome.

  1. Diversity in networking.

Look for groups that don’t target people just like you. In this way, you’ll broaden the net you seek to cast for referrals.

  1. Farming mentality.

It’s a long, drawn-out process to go from seeding a field to harvesting the crops and there’s no quick return. But, when you spend time and take care in building relationships, your networking will yield extraordinary results.

Approaching networking with a mentality that focuses on the process of cultivating referrals will create the results you desire. Make an effort to spend more time strengthening your friendships with those whom you wish to have as part of your networking circle and you will certainly make more and better connections.

Do you have any tips for developing a networking-friendly mindset which positions you for success?  I’d love to hear from you, so please leave your thoughts, comments, and ideas in the forum below.  Thanks!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
1 2 3 4 22
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox