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.
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.
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
Years ago, I was relaxing on Necker Island in the Caribbean where I was meeting with about 20 business leaders including Sir Richard Branson the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways and owner of the Island.
My journey to this island is a dramatic example of “The Butterfly Effect of Networking”, a theory that a small action in one place may have a ripple effect that creates a dramatic action in another place. It is like a pebble in a pond creating ripples on the surface. For networking, it is about how a seemingly minor connection or conversation with one person may, after many ripples across the network over time, ends in a dramatic connection later in the process. Let me share my story…
I’ve been writing about networking for more than 30 years! After all these years, I still find that there are many misnomers about what business networking should, or shouldn’t be about. Many people think that business networking is basically about direct selling. Others think that is about relationship building. What do you think makes a great networker?
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.
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.
Last week I shared four ideas for staying in touch with people. I discussed sorting through you list then using the system they use. I recommended using social media and old-fashioned stamp and envelope snail mail.
Here are 3 more strategies that will help you improve how you can stay in touch with others. If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.
- Online chat/Skype or other instant message systems. I’m not a big fan but – it’s not about me, it’s about the other person. What are they using? I see many people using messaging systems online? If you want to stay connected, connect where they are.
- Periodic phone calls. I know, crazy idea, actually talk to people. Your smart phone has a green button – use it. If appropriate, set up regular calls. My wife and her sister have done that for many years.
- Face to face. Don’t be a “cave dweller.” Nothing beats actually meeting someone face to face and having a conversation. You have to eat breakfast and lunch every day, so why not do this a few times a week with a good referral partner? You can kill two birds with one stone by strategizing with your referral partner about how to help each other over a meal.
Benign neglect is a horrible thing when it comes to building social capital. Start today to stay in touch. Pick a few of the techniques I listed above and “touch” someone. Hey now, keep it appropriate.
People often ask me, “how can I stay in touch with people or get back in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”
Start by making a commitment to improving this area. There’s a great Chinese proverb that I really like – “When’s the best time to plant an Oak tree? The answer is – 20 years ago. When’s the second best time – now!”
So, here are 4 strategies that will help you improve in this area. If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.
- Sort through your list of people. You can’t stay in touch with everyone. Who do you want to make sure to stay connected with and why? It could be personal, it could be professional, but create a list that you want to focus on.
- Use the system they use! It doesn’t have to be Facebook or LinkedIn – use Pinterest or other programs, Snapchat, What’s App – whatever they use. Each of my children uses different systems. If I want to connect with them – I need to go where they are. For my oldest daughter, it’s texting or a phone call. For my second daughter, it’s What’s App or texting. For my son, it’s an online game called Steam. I have some business associates who only reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn. Others are strictly email or a phone call. The key here – is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.
- Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter to your advantage by sharing news and reading updates without having to reach out to people on an individual basis. Social media is fantastic. Instead of starting your next call with, “What’s new?” you can jump to, “You cut off your hair!” “You have a new job!”
- From time to time, use snail mail! Yes, OMG, send a handwritten letter or a card. It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.
Next week I will share more tips.
This video is on my Networking for Success YouTube Channel, hosted by Entrepreneur.com.
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. Also, if you’re arms are crossed and you have a bored or scowled look on your face, people won’t want to approach you.
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.