Honor the Event

I had a conversation recently with a new BNI member who expressed that she has always been somewhat uncomfortable networking because she’€™s always been afraid of sounding like she’€™s being pushy, and she has a hard time knowing when it’s even €œOK to approach the subject of business with other people.I told her what I’€™ve said countless times over the years to many other people–that the absolute key to networking appropriately is making sure to always honor the event.

You can network any time and any place, but as long as you are honoring the event, there is nothing to be afraid of.However, this means that in some cases you are going to network a lot differently than you would in other cases.For example, networking at a chamber mixer is one thing, while networking at church social event is something completely different.


It is essential to understand that networking does not mean that you should constantly be trying to sell people your products or services. Networking does mean that you should constantly build relationships. The best way to build relationships is to help someone whenever possible.


In order to appropriately network at a church social event, for example, you should make contacts, put people together, help others and build relationships.However, you should not be actively promoting your business.You should simply focus on putting people together and helping others.


Always keep your networking goals in sight at all events and opportunities, but don’€™t become a networking vulture or someone that everyone else runs from when they see you coming. Honor the event and tailor your networking strategies so that you fit in without being tuned out.


Always be sincere; and remember that no one minds the opportunity to exchange information that will benefit one or more people, even when that exchange takes the form of helping someone..

Teach Your Employees To Network!

I’ve been doing a lot of traveling lately to promote my new book Masters of Sales (www.MastersBooks.Com), and on my way to a book tour date I sat next to a young man in an airport who struck up a conversation with me.  We got to talking about what each other did for a living and after explaining what I do, I found out that he worked for a small, family owned grocery business.  I commented that it was probably tough to be the “little guyâ€? in competition with the larger chain grocery stores and that his employer must be doing something right to still be in business. 

Being in the business of networking for over 20 years, it’s a no-brainer to me that my comments and inquiries about the young man’s employer were a prime opportunity for him to explain what made his company special and to possibly make a valuable networking connection that could bring in business and possibly mean a promotion for him.  But instead of taking advantage of the open door I was extending to him with my curiosity, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah, we’ve had the same customers for years, so I guess we’re just lucky that they’re so loyal.â€?

That conversation reminded me how critically important it is to teach your employees to network!  Many business people simply don’t do this one simple thing which could dramatically boost their networking efforts.  It doesn’t matter how much you may know about networking, or how well you network to promote your business, you never know what you could be missing out on if your employees were trained to network for you.

The bottom line is that until you teach someone how to do something effectively, expecting them to do it well – or even at all – is unrealistic.

As you might imagine, it’s far better to engage your entire staff in your word-of-mouth marketing campaign-not only at startup, but also throughout the life of your business. When you show employees how to network efficiently, they are much more apt to make efforts to network; and you will have a greater chance of gaining more business.

Try holding focus groups where you role-play ways to ask for referrals from other customers, friends and family.  Bring in local networking experts for in-house trainings.  Better yet, send your staff to a networking class, like the one’s conducted by the Referral Institute.   If you belong to a weekly networking group, bring your staff to those meetings one at a time so each member can see firsthand what networking can produce.  This also helps your networking partners feel that they know your business better, since they’ve been able to meet the people in your company.  

Networking is a group activity; so, make sure to get your whole team on board with the process.  If you’ve done anything to get your employees involved in networking your business, I’d love to hear about it.

Teaching My Daughter About Business Cards

One of my daughters recently invested in her first set of business cards and as I was coaching her on the key points of efficient business card use, I was thinking about all of the people that carry around business cards on a daily basis who simply do not realize what an absolutely crucial and valuable tool this one little card is!

Your business card is one of the most important networking tools you have in your quest for increased referrals.  Can you envision a reality where 20—30 people in your word-of-mouth marketing circle carry your cards and have them ready to hand to prospects they’re actually qualifying for you?  That’s what can happen if you use your business card efficiently!

In order to make the most of your business card:

* Make Your Cards Accessible in Every Situation

In short, don’t leave home without them! Keep a small box of your cards in your glove box, put cards in your pocket, your briefcase, wallet and computer bag.

* Seek Situations to Exchange Business Cards

One-on-one meetings, mixers and social events, conventions and trade shows, visits to non-competing businesses, and international meetings and events all present excellent opportunities to exchange your card.


* Contacts at a Distance

Whenever you communicate with someone in writing, send a card if it’s appropriate for the occasion.  Also, after any telephone call in which business was discussed, follow up with a letter outlining the main points of your discussion and include one or more of your cards.


* Special Tricks of the Trade

When giving out your card, hand-write something on one copy, such as your cell-phone number, a secondary e-mail address, etc.  This will give that particular card a greater chance of being held onto. Be sure you give a couple of “cleanâ€? cards to that person as well.   The main thing when handing out your card is to keep in mind what an effective tool it can be.  Take maximum advantage of its full potential. And never, ever, be caught without it.

What To Say When You Don’t Remember Them?

I got a great question today from a chef that I thought I would share with you:

I was in a store last week when a person shouted out, “Hi Chef” I faced the person and drew a complete blank.  Not only did I not know this person’s name, I didn’t recognize them at all.  So I smiled and said “Hi I’m fine” and kept on going. 

I was disappointed with my reaction.  Other choices were to stop and engage a conversation and fake it, hoping to pick up a clue to help me remember.  Or to come right out and say, “I’m sorry I can’t remember your name” or say, “I know you but I don’t remember from where.”

What do I do in a situation like this???

 

A good response in a situation like this is to say something like, “Hi, good to see you.”  Then, start a simple conversation.  For example, if they are in a grocery store, (since this was a chef) ask them what they were planning for their big meal or whatever works in that situation.  The key here is to say “good to see you.”  Clearly, they know you, so you don’t want to say “nice to meet you” because they most likely have met you and will feel put off that you didn’t remember them.  This allows you to start a dialog without being obvious that you don’t remember them. 

 

OK, I’ll admit it. . . I’ve learned this the hard way – from experience! 


What do you think about this approach or, what have you done in this situation?

 

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