The Top Characteristics of a Great Networker

Many people offer advice about what it takes to be a great networker (myself amongst them).  One thing that is left out of that equation, however, is what other people think about what it takes to be a great networker.  Networking involves interacting with others. So what do “they” think it takes to be a great networker?  This is important because we all need to be cognizant of other people’s expectations and adjust our behavior accordingly if we want to make the kind of impression that will work to build a powerful personal network.

Recently, I took the opportunity to gather almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world.   I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see.  From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed them here.

  1. Good Listener. At the top of the list is being a good listener.  Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately.  Listen to people’s needs and concerns and find opportunities to help them.  You can’t help others if you don’t know what they need, and you find that out by listening. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots but to do that you have to listen so that you can help people make the connections they are looking for.
  1. Positive attitude. The first thing that people see from you is your attitude, how you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets.  Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them.
  1. Helps Others/Collaborative. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Helping people shows that you care.  One survey respondent said that “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.”  Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from clipping a helpful article and emailing it to someone, to putting them in touch with a person who can help them with a specific challenge.  Several respondents commented about not wanting to network with people who are “in it for themselves.” A willingness to collaborate and help others is essential as it builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.

Check out my blog next week for more characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker.

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.

 

Are you educating your network or just selling to them?

Educating your networking group’s members about the type of referrals you want (and even the names of the individuals with whom you want to meet and develop relationships) is much more important to the success of your networking in a closed contact network than selling to the members. This demands a shift in how you see your networking partners and educating them about your business. They are not the clients! They are, in effect, your sales force! In order for any sales force to get out there and sell you effectively, they have to know who to sell you to and how to sell you.

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How Much Time Should You Spend Networking?

People who say that networking played a role in their success spent an average of 6 1/2 hours a week networking and had half of their clients from their networking time. However, people who did not invest as much time networking also did not report as much reward.

Therefore, spend about 8-10 hours per week networking and do the right things to build the relationships first when networking.

Networking Efficiently

Tips for Networking Efficiently by Tiffanie Kellog and Matt Wilkerson (Guest Video Blog)

In this video, “Networking Efficiently”, Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer with Asentiv and author of 4 1/2 Networking Mistakes, interviews Matt Wilkerson, owner of the Verizon store in Williston, FL about how to network more effectivelyand to conduct your networking more efficiently , both by having focus, as well as working with a partner.

Please watch this guest video blog on my YouTube channel:  Ivan Misner: Networking For Success

networking

“A is for” by Andy Lopata (Guest Video Blog)

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

This video introduces the Seven “A’s” of Networking.

  • Asking: People need to know that they can help you
  • Authenticity: Be seen as honest to built trust
  • Attitude: Be positive and confident
  • Attention: Give others your full attention
  • Attendance: One must be present to win
  • And two more…

Please watch this video to learn more about Andy’s tips.

Halloween

In celebration of Halloween, I’d like to share a “scary” networking experience I heard about from a friend:

 There are many ways that I’ve seen networking partners abuse the relationship, but the following “scary”story is absolutely one of the most glaring examples of this situation. 
 
A woman I know was invited to attend a Halloween costume party of an associate who used to belong to a networking group in which she also participated.  They once had a long-term working relationship, and so out of respect, she decided to dress up and attend.  When she got to the door, she looked through the window and noticed that people were arranged in a semi-circle listening to a presenter in front of an easel board.   When she stepped in, it was very obvious that the “party-goers” were being recruited for a business opportunity.  As resentful as the woman felt, she and other mutual friends found it difficult to remove themselves from the “Halloween party” despite the fact that the only refreshment being served was the company’s pumpkin spice diet shake!  
 
Never, ever mislead your networking partners (for that matter – never mislead anyone).  Trust is everything when you are talking about relationship networking.  Inviting these people to a “Halloween party” which turns out to be a business opportunity is not being honest with the very people with whom you want to build a trusting relationship.
 
All of these faux pas directly relate to good people skills.  The prevailing theme of this ghostly tale is to treat your referral partners (or potential referral partners) with professionalism and care.  Make sure to respond to them quickly, don’t treat a networking opportunity like a cold-call, and don’t abuse a networking relationship.  Instead, treat your referral partner like you would a #1 client.  Use networking opportunities to meet people and begin the process of developing a genuine relationship.  Lastly, always network in a way that builds credibility and trust – be candid in telling your referral partners what you need and what you’re asking of them.  Do these things and you’ll help to avoid some serious mistakes in relationship networking.
 
Happy Halloween!

Name Tags Tips from Tiffanie Kellog (guest blog)

When networking, wearing a name tag is a MUST! However, what you have on your name tag could be hurting you when networking, instead of helping. Join Tiffanie Kellog, author of 4 1/2 Networking Mistakes and consultant for Asentiv, as she discusses what kind of name tag you want to wear when networking.

gains profile

Your Network Should be Both Wide and Deep

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be very powerful. You need a strong and stable network that is both wide and deep. Like the supporting roots of a huge oak tree, some of your referral relationships need to go deeper. You create deeper relationships by learning as much as you can about other people. You want to find out details about their family, their interests, and their goals. Get to know them a little bit better.

I think the absolute master at this is definitely Harvey Mackay, a speaker, and best-selling motivational author. The first time I spoke to Harvey on the phone, he must have been taking notes about everything I said. The second time I had a conversation with him, Harvey surprised me by asking, “So, how are your kids? You’ve got three, right? What are Ashley and Cassie doing now? And how’s Trey doing—is he about ready to go to college?”

I was thinking, “Wow! How did you remember all that?” The more I spoke to Harvey, the more I became convinced that he had a system for keeping track of the important details of the people in his network.

Now when I talk to him, I know what he’s doing, and I love it! I’m impressed by Harvey’s system because it takes work. He has a database of the people in his network, and he does some research before calling anyone. And he’s continually adding and updating the information—your pets’ names, your children’s names, your birthday, and the anniversary of your company startup. Harvey sets himself apart by putting in an effort to honor people by remembering what’s important to them. It’s hard not to be impressed by that.

That’s what I mean by going deep with your relationships. Are there other ways to do this? Certainly, but I think Harvey Mackay’s system is excellent. We live in this sound-bite society in which most people want to get right down to business without getting to know the other person. What I’ve found is when you really get to know somebody, amazing things happen.

Here’s a good example of this. In our BNI groups, we introduced a tool called the GAINS profile—it stands for “Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills.” We tested it on a small group of people to see if it would work. Each person filled it out for themselves, listing their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills—both personal and professional. Two guys in our test group didn’t want to fill out their GAINS profiles. “This is just silly,” they complained.

I said, “That’s why we’re testing this tool with you guys before we roll it out. If it doesn’t work, then tell us. But you have to try it first.”

So these two skeptical guys had a conversation and shared their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills with each other. During the process, they discovered that they were both coaches for their sons’ soccer teams. Oh, all of a sudden, these guys were best friends! They talked about soccer and shared plays with each other. They even ended up scouting out the competition for one another’s teams. And guess what happened? These guys had known each other for a year but never did business with each other. Within three months of the GAINS exercise, they were passing quality referrals to each other. The change happened because they found out they were both soccer coaches and that game connected. That connection built trust, which turned into business.

Connecting over a nonbusiness interest endears you to the other person. Now you’re not just some salesperson to them—you’re a friend.

You pay a compliment to people when you show that you understand what’s important to them. Make it an aim of yours to learn at least one goal or personal interest someone has outside of their business.

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.

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