Networking Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
end a conversation

How to End a Conversation Without Offending Anyone Around You

I often get asked about the best way to end a conversation in a networking situation. Candidly, I think the answer is pretty simple. So, I’ll start this piece with the “simple solution.” In addition, for those of you who love to over-think things, I’ll give you some other “exit lines” options below.

The Simple Solution Saying

  1. Simply say something like, “It was really nice meeting you. Do you have a card so I can have your contact information? Thanks.” That’s it. Do not apologize because you have to go network and definitely do not say you see someone else you need to talk to. Simply thank them, end a conversation, and move on.
  2. Frame what you liked about the conversation or recap part of the conversation that you found most interesting and then state your simple solution saying above.
  3. If they say something that makes you think of someone else they should meet — tell them and promise to make an introduction.  If the other person is there at the event, make the introduction on the spot.  Being a “connector” at a networking event is always a good thing.
  4. Invite them to participate with you in another networking meeting you go to regularly, such as BNI. They may want to get out and meet more people. This is a great chance to connect them to another network of individuals and it gives you a chance to meet them again at your next BNI meeting.

The Exit Lines

For those of you who want more ways to end a conversation — I’ve read all kinds of “exit lines” and unless they are absolutely true — I don’t recommend most of them. Whether you’re ready to wrap it up immediately or have time for courtesies, here are a handful of efficient exit lines. Keep it simple and keep it honest. OK, you want to know what some of those other lines I recommend to end a conversation are — here you go:

  • I’ve got to get home by “X” o’clock to have dinner with the family
  • It’s been nice meeting you, I need to run to the restroom
  • I’ve got a deadline on a project and I need to take off

Anything similar to the above suggestions is fine but don’t fib. If you really have to leave and do something tell them. Otherwise, simply doing what I say above in your simple solution saying will work fine to end a conversation without offending anyone around you at your networking events.

Whatever you do, don’t “Seinfeld it.”

One of the really funny things on the old TV series Seinfeld was how the characters would go off on some crazy, complicated subterfuge or ruse and end up getting in more trouble than if they had just been candid to start with. Be polite, but be honest and direct. “Seinfeld-ing it” almost always fails and both you and the other person end up uncomfortable.

Remember: Don’t overthink it. Be polite and friendly. Don’t make excuses and politely move on. The real key about ending a conversation is how you follow up! 

alienating

Why am I Alienating Others When Networking?

Behavior is key when networking-it makes or breaks the connections, and ultimately, the relationships you build. I’ve spoken before about the differences between approachable or alienating behavior, but I want to take a deeper look into what qualifies behavior as alienating. You may watch this video and suddenly realize that the little nuances you may have passed off as nothing, are actually keeping you from successfully networking.

Here are four ways you may be alienating others when networking:

1. Negative Attitude: Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. Life is hard enough without having to lament about it all the time. If you’re always complaining or focusing on the negative aspects of life, you’re going to turn people off.

2. Closed Off Body Language: There’s a great graphic in the video that will show you what closed off body language looks like, but basically it means standing in a way that only allows for a conversation to happen between two or three people. If you have a bored or scowled look on your face, people won’t want to approach you. Finally, do not cross your arms.

3. Incongruence: Do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t talk a big talk and not back it up. This will lead people to become skeptical of your dependability-which is bad if you’re looking to gain trusted referral partners.

4. Not Acting Interested in People: Be interested more than interesting.  A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately.

If you’re still not sure you’re exhibiting these behaviors

Take a trusted friend or referral partner with you to your next event and ask them to notice if you act in any of the above ways; you can do the same for them. Have an honest conversation afterward about what you both noticed and work out ways to improve your behavior. At the next event, try and be aware of yourself and the reactions you get when you change your behavior.

Are you approachable when it comes to mingling at networking events? You may not know that you are the one getting in your own way when it comes to meeting new people and kindling business relationships. But how can you really tell if you are approachable or alienating? Bring a trusted friend or referral partner with you to your next networking event and observe each other’s body language, the tone of voice and words. Afterward, exchange constructive feedback with the intent of helping each other become better referral partners.

Andy Lopata

The A-Z of Networking: U is for… (by Andy Lopata)

This month, Andy Lopata shares his networking tips which begin with the letter “U”

  • Uber
  • Ubuntu
  • Unconditional
  • Underestimate
  • Undermine
  • Under-promise
  • Understanding
  • Understated
  • Unicorn (Yes he talks about unicorns)
  • Uniqueness
  • Useful
  • Useless
  • Utilize

Click here to watch this video

Please click below to see Andy’s playlist of his networking tips from A to Z.

https://ivanmisner.com/category/a-to-zs-of-networking/

By knowing why you are networking and what you want to achieve, it is possible to plan accordingly and get great, measurable results. If you have any comments about Andy’s “U” list or any additional “U” words about networking you will want to add to the list. please leave me a comment below.

Andy Lopata

As a business networking strategist, Andy Lopata works with companies on how to use networking tools to develop their businesses. Networking is not just about sales. Whether for lead generation, breaking down silos internally, recruitment and retention of top staff or developing future leaders, networks and collaboration have a key role to play. Andy works with clients to help recognize that role and put the strategy and skills in place to leverage it.

Quality Truly is King

Quality Truly is King in Networking

Quantity is important, but networking is not so much a numbers game as a people puzzle, one that works by making connections between other people. You need to have a wide set of contacts, but your connections need to go deep. It’s not just who you know, but how well you know them. If you know your connections well enough to be able to call and ask for a favor–and get it–that is a powerful network. Quantity is good, but quality truly is king.

The more people you meet at an event, the more successful your networking efforts are–and that’s simply not the case.  Instead, the quality of the connections you form is much more significant than the quantity of connections you make.

Networking is not a numbers game.  It’s more like a people puzzle.  It’s about building relationships with the close people in your network.  That means that it’s about finding ways to interconnect the relationships you have to build a powerful personal network.  In order to do that – you actually have to have a fair number of quality relationships in that sea of contacts.

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful.

Instead, your network needs to be both wide and – in places, deep.  That is, you need to have a wide set of contacts but some of those need to be connections that go deep.  Therefore, the quality of your network is just as important, if not more important than the quantity of your network.  This doesn’t mean that quantity isn’t important.  It is important.  The thing is that a small network of quality people limits your success.  However, a large network with multiple quality relationships makes for a much more powerful, personal network.

It is a little like your left hand and your right hand.  Both are really important. But one is generally stronger, more powerful, and generally used more than the other. You can’t accomplish what you want as easily without both.  However, one is the stronger hand.  This is similar to the quantity vs. quality argument in networking.

Click here to listen to a personal story about this comparison

 I believe that it is NOT, what you know, or who you know – it’s how well you know each other that counts.

Strong relationships take simple “contacts” and turn them into powerful “connections.”  It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers.  What really matters is if I can pick up the phone and ask some of them for a favor and they take my call then are willing to do that favor.

Target Market

Developing Your Target Market

In the second edition of my book “Networking like a Pro”, I share one of the biggest mistakes I see business professionals make. It is trying to be everything to everyone.  Having a target market for focusing your efforts makes networking more effective.

Staying in Your Lane

Have a clear understanding of who your ideal clients actually are. This is your strategy. When you try to be everything to everyone, you wind up being very little to anyone.  Identify the types of businesspeople that make up your target market. This allows you to better focus your resources in the areas that are most likely to provide success.

Spheres of Influence

The most successful networkers have developed a thorough strategic planning process. They have deepened their relationships with a variety of people across diverse networks. A sphere of influence is a group of people who are most likely to work with you. To determine your spheres of influence take a look at which of your past and current clients you enjoyed working with the best. Then, determine what they have in common. Look for similarities in their businesses or personalities and write down a few of them as your spheres of Influences.

Target Markets

Once you have established two or three target markets, focus your networking on them. Building your business is all about leveraging your strengths within the context of your prospects’ needs, and then networking with as many of those people as you can.

Follow these steps and you will build a great foundation to understand and develop your target market. Find out more about this topic in my book, “Networking Like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections – Second Edition“. Please go to my website at https://ivanmisner.com/books/ to learn how to purchase any of my books.

five least important skills

Five Mistakes To Make When Networking

In this video, I share the five least important skills for networking according to a survey of 3400 business people. Knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do. Furthermore, it is also clear from these results that great networkers and great salespeople have different skill sets.

In conclusion, many people think you need to be an extrovert to be a good networker, but that’s not what the survey says. Here are five least important skills for networking.

You don’t need to be:

  1. Fearless
  2. A salesperson
  3. A self-promoter
  4. Direct
  5. Social media savvy

That’s right: social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability. The under-30 crowd ranked social media savvy second-to-last instead of last. It’s also clear from these results that great networkers and great salespeople have different skill sets.

So if you want to be a great networker, understand the five least important skills to be a great networker because you may be doing things in terms of being very direct and being fearless and asking for the sale, these kinds of things that actually may not serve you in the way that you hoped that they would serve you. The combination of knowing what to do as well as what not to do, I think, will help you to network like a pro.

wheels

Dude, Where are My Wheels

I recently visited Los Angeles and drove through an area that I grew up around. I was regaling my wife with a personal story about a job I had in a pretty tough neighborhood when I was in college. It was about how having a strong network can always help you in difficult situations. At the end of the story, she said, “You have to write about this “Wheels” experience!” So, here it is.

Dude, Where are My Wheels

I grew up in a very working-class environment early in my life. It was roughly 1975, working on my bachelor’s degree while I was employed at a hardware store in South El Monte, California. Now, you have to understand that South El Monte was a pretty tough neighborhood. We had a fair number of gangs active in the area.

We closed the store one evening around 7:00 p.m. It took about 30 minutes to close all the registers and leave the store. In that 30-minute period, a lot could happen in that particular neighborhood. Around 7:30 p.m., we walked out of the store and found one of the employee’s cars sitting in the parking lot. It was literally propped up on blocks. Someone had stolen all four of my co-worker’s “awesome” wheels and left the car on four concrete blocks where it sat, waiting for him when he got off work. Clearly, he was apoplectic when we walked out. He went absolutely crazy!

What’s amazing to me was that one of the employees who lived locally said to the other employee, “Calm down, relax and give me a while. I’ll make a call and see what I can do. Go back into the store and wait. I’ll let you know when to come back out.”

Within an hour, he came in and said it was OK to come back out. We went back into the parking lot, and lo and behold, there was his car with the wheels. They were re-installed, bright shiny rims and all — good as new!

It turns out that the local employee had friends in the gang that was known for heisting awesome wheels off cars. He simply made a call to one of the members he knew well (to clarify, he wasn’t in the gang, but he “knew people” in the gang). All it took to have the wheels returned was one phone call to that one gang member he knew well. I was about 18 years old, and I think this was one of the first really powerful lessons I experienced about the value of  an important tenet in networking.

Knowing the right people

This unfortunate story in my youth taught me the importance of knowing the right people. It helped me to learn that it’s not what you know — or who you know, it’s how well you know each other that counts.

five ways to better networking

Five Ways To Better Networking

Last year, I gathered 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 in a great networker.  From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed the five ways to better networking in this video.

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.

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.

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. For example, clip a helpful article and email it to someone. Furthermore, put 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. It builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.

Sincere/Authentic.

You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it!  Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn.  One respondent stated that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you.  We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity.  Faking it isn’t sustainable.

Follows Up.

If you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person.  One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”

Click here to watch the video

business networking

What is Business Networking?

What is business networking? Let me share the true definition of networking.

“Business Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge and expand your sphere of influence.”

Notice that the key word here is relationships. 

Successful networking of any kind starts with the genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. If you are only networking to gain and not to give, you’ll never be successful.

Building Relationships should become one of the most important components of your business. You should build your business by farming not hunting. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it’s not powerful. Social capital is like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal. Relationships are very much the same – referral relationships in particular. You must support and help others with their business before you can ask for their help.

Remember business networking is more about FARMING than it is about HUNTING.

It’s about cultivating relationships and taking the time and energy to help them grow and flourish. A good farmer knows when to tend to his crop and when to harvest it; if you over pick, you’ll be left with nothing. But if you continue to care for and maintain your crop, it will grow abundantly.

Let’s think of the farmers, the ones who cultivate steady, growing, genuine and authentic relationships with the people they feel are important to include in their network. They have a steady back-and-forth of interactions that benefits not only them. Everyone involved is rewarded. Why? Because the time is taken to really get to know people enough to make a relationship means that when it comes time to make a referral, it’s much easier to call upon them.

Watch this video below to hear more details about the true meaning of business networking.

How do you define “Business Networking”?

This word has become so overused that some business professionals can no longer define networking. Many people think that networking is attending social or business after-hour events, shaking a few hands, collecting a few cards, and, of course, giving away a few cards of their own. Sadly, they actually believe that’s all there is to networking. To be fair, we could say they’re engaging in social networking. That’s never to be confused, however, with business networking.

Businesspeople tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to their views of networking. For many, the current mindset is that networking is a passive business strategy, not a proactive marketing tool. This attitude results in a scattered, often ineffective networking approach that consequently wastes the business owner’s time and money. Not surprisingly, when people feel they’ve been wasting their time and money on something, they’re understandably not going to continue that activity.

On the other hand, some proprietors do consider networking a proactive marketing tool for their business. How can you tell? They make it a significant part of their marketing and business plans. These business owners have networking goals. They may even have a budget line item for networking. Most importantly, they practice it and live it every day. They are training a sales force. Their networking team is there to keep an eye out for potential clients. If you “target talk”, that is, hone in on exactly what type of client you are looking for, better, more qualified referrals will result.

After watching the video, let us know your thoughts on the definition of business networkingDo you have a different definition or any feedback on what may be missing from the new definition of networking that we’ve provided here?  We’d love to hear from you so please leave your comments in the comments below. Thanks!

networking conversation

Stand out with a very different networking conversation and intention

While Ivan Misner is on vacation this week, we are honored to have a guest blog post by Dame Doria (DC) Cordova, Owner & CEO, Excellerated Business Schools® & Money & You® about networking conversation and intention.

Have you ever been to a networking event and had that “awkward” feeling as you begin talking with someone? If you’re like most people the answer is “yes, absolutely.” In that moment, people often fall back to the classic, almost automatic opener: “so [insert name], what do you do?”

At our live entrepreneurial events, like our 3.5 day Money & You® Program or the flagship, annual 8-day live-in immersion program – the Global Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs – we teach a different model, one that brings a truly different quality of conversation and connection with just three easy questions.

These three questions have been tested and tried by tens of thousands of our graduates – all leaders and entrepreneurs like you, some of them now household names like Tony Robbins, Jack Canfield, Robert & Kim Kiyosaki and tens of thousands more from some 85 countries – to put it simply, it works wonders.

After all, networking is nothing if there isn’t some kind of genuine conversation and connection made between you and the people you are networking with, right?

Right.

In fact, this works because the very intention behind the three questions is based on a powerful and fundamental premise of success, one of many we cover in detail at our invitation only and annual Global Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs which is attended by committed leaders and entrepreneurs from all over the world to dramatically “excellerate” the success of their projects and enterprises.

It’s also a premise that has, I believe, been a key part of why BNI and my good friend, Dr. Ivan Misner are so successful and world-leading in his efforts.

R. Buckminster Fuller, a genius thinker of the 20th century and one of the masters our teachings are based on, taught us about “Generalized Principles”. To define this further, if a premise is specifically a “Generalized Principle” then there are no exceptions, the principle is

true in ALL cases, ALL the time. Gravity, for example, is a Generalized Principle – that is, it doesn’t matter who we are, where we’re from, our backgrounds, our preferences, our stories – gravity is affecting us all equally and in all cases at all times.

What we have learned over these many years, is that whether you are an employee or entrepreneur, there are Generalized Principles that are as powerful as gravity that apply to business, wealth and in fact, life.

One of the Generalized Principles “Bucky” (as he is affectionately known) taught us, is that the true purpose of any endeavor, career, or for example, any business is NOT – as so many assume – to make money – even millions or multi-millions – rather the purpose MUST be and is only to add value to the community you serve. And by adding value, the rewards including the money, the connections, the relationships… follow. By the way, notice how BNI. and Dr Misner have absolutely proven that – add value and they will come.

The question then is: how do we truly add value in a networking conversation?

In my experience, at networking events people are so often focused on what they can get – “whom can I meet?” – “where is my new business coming from?” – “who is my target?” –NOT what they can give. The answer is easy.

Shift your intention.

Make your mind up that you are going to be there – at that event – for others, not for your own interests.

Practice that by taking on and asking each person you meet, these three questions:

  1. What business are you in?
  2. What support do you need?
  3. What can I do for you?

These three questions open up genuine conversations AND significantly differentiate you in the process. While everyone else is asking “so [insert name], what do you do?”, you’re exploring who this person is, what they need and how you can assist. In other words, you are ADDING VALUE even in a two-minute conversation with a stranger.

Think about it this way… How different would your experience at a networking event be, if someone took the time to ask you these three questions in this way? Indeed, they would be finding out more about you, putting you at ease, supporting you, forwarding your intentions, goals and plans. And, how would you feel about that person? Probably quite different than anyone who asked you the standard “so [insert name], what do you do?”

Happy Networking!

Dame Doria (DC) Cordova

For the last 40 years, Dame Doria (DC) Cordova’s life purpose has been to uplift humanity’s consciousness through social enterprise. She continues to be truly successful in that endeavor globally. Her work reaches from the USA/North America to China and through the Asia Pacific region, including Australia, New Zealand, Europe and beyond. My work and our organizations, such as BNI and Excellerated are critically aligned in our ongoing commitment to make a difference to those we serve. Her network of 118,000+ global leaders and entrepreneurs is unparalleled and her program the Global Excellerated Business School for Entrepreneurs is a unique experience my readers are personally invited and frankly, encouraged to explore in-depth. Please visit: www.globalexcelleratedbusinessschool.com

Waste Your Time

Ten Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group

Membership in a good networking group can be worth a considerable amount of money. Especially if you calculate the time you spend each month and the business value of your time. Do not waste your time. Make your time and efforts worthwhile. Don’t squander your opportunity by doing the wrong things in those meetings!

Success in a networking group comes when the rest of the group members trust you enough to open up their best referrals to you. Until they’ve seen your work, you have to earn that trust by demonstrating your professionalism to them. Since I founded BNI almost 25 years ago, I’ve seen how people have truly succeeded in networks–and I’ve seen how people have totally wasted their time in them.

Please watch this video:

The top 10 ways to waste your time in a networking group (avoid all of them):

No. 10. Go ahead, air your grievances among your fellow networkers and guests; after all, they really want to hear about your complaints.

No. 9. Wing it in your 60-second presentations; you’ve got plenty more chances anyway.

No. 8. Use one-to-one meetings to talk about your networking group’s issues instead of learning a lot more about each other.

No. 7. Focus your efforts on selling your services primarily to the members of the group.

No. 6. Don’t rush following up on a member’s referral. They know where you are.

No. 5. Use others’ 60-second presentation time to think about what referrals you can give that week.

No. 4. Why invite your own guests? Just focus on those who show up.

No. 3. Don’t worry if you get to the meeting late. No one will notice.

No. 2. Be absent; it’s no big deal. You can just call in your referrals . . . right?

And the No. 1 way to waste your time in networking groups . . .

No. 1. It’s OK, take that phone call or text message during a meeting. It won’t bother anyone, and it’s a real sign of professionalism that everyone admires.

So there it isThe Top 10 Ways to Waste Your Time in a Networking Group! Print this out. Memorize it. Share it with your fellow networking members. Above all–avoid these mistakes! You’ll get a lot more out of your group and so will your fellow members.

I’d love to hear some more ways that are big time wasters in a networking group. Please leave your comments below. Let’s add to this list.

time spend networking

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. So, how much time should you spend networking?

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

The secret to getting more business through networking is. . . spending more time doing it!   OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things.  However, devoting the necessary time is the starting point.  So how much networking time (or NetTime) should you spend developing your personal network and what kind of results can you expect to see?

The survey results

Based on a survey that I helped to write and conduct of over 12,000 business professionals from every populated continent in the world, we finally have a definitive answer to those questions.  The study found that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.3 hours a week participating in networking activities.  On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.  

Clearly, those people who spent very little time engaged in the process felt that networking was not an effective way to build their business.  As with many other aspects of life, you clearly reap what you sow.  It’s no wonder that the people who didn’t invest as much time also did not realize as much reward.  This demonstrates the direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you will likely realize from it.

You may be reading this article and thinking – OK, I now know that I need to be spending at least 6 ½ hours a week networking.  Well, that’s true IF you want to be average (and what successful business person wants to be average)!   If on the other hand, you’d like to be above average – you need to devote more time than that to the cause.  The optimum amount of NetTime is more likely to be 8-10 hours a week if you want to be one of those people that are generating well over half their business from referrals.

How much time do you spend networking each week?  More?  Less? and what percentage of business do you get from your networking efforts?  Comment below.

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