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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.

More Strategies to Stay in Touch

 

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Four Strategies to Stay in Touch

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!”
  4. 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.

Is Your Behavior Alienating?

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.

 

 

 

Remembering Names

When networking, it’s important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication–making eye contact, listening more than you speak, and of course, actually remembering people’s names.

Yeah, I’d say remembering someone’s name is high up in the list of mannerisms that will impress others in networking. It shows you pay attention to detail, you listen well and are interested in the person, not just their business.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will ensure you never forget your manners–and it actually works!

1. Repetition is key. When you are introduced to someone new, ask for their business card and read it carefully. Then, read the name on the card and ask them to repeat it; it will help lock the face with the name. “Hi! It’s great to meet you, Betsy Smith. It’s pronounced Betsy, yes?”

2. Use their name in conversation. When you begin a conversation, listen to what they are saying and respond by using their name; “Wow, Betsy, that sounds like an incredible opportunity! I’d love to sit down with you over lunch and talk more.” ID-10046846

3. Connect them with others and use their name in the introduction. You are networking after all, so it’s important to connect others if you can. Whe introducing two people, use their names when they first meet. “Joe, I’d like you to meet Betsy. Betsy is a realtor who just landed a big contract with the city. I bet you two would have a lot to talk about!”

4. Dedicate it to memory. Once you’ve left the networking event and you’re back at home or work, take out the business card and try and remember what that person looked like and what they were doing and saying. Maybe even send them a quick “nice to meet you” email to help you remember the conversation you had.

The next time your at a networking event, try to use these devices and see if it helps. If you can remember the devices, that is.

 

Sometimes, the Best Addition is Subtraction

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

Let’s say you’re in a networking group and you have hit a plateau. You can remember a time when your group was on fire, when you all had passion and excitement and you couldn’t get to your meeting fast enough. Now, you all seem to have lost steam, and things just aren’t what they used to be. The referrals aren’t being generated, the 1-2-1’s are happening, and the group seems to groan a little every time the meeting begins. You want to regain the passion and help your network grow, but how?

Like I said–sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

If you want to add value to your group, you need to take away the things–or people–that are making it dysfunctional. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want your network to grow, you may have to cut it back.

Lifelong Learning: Lessons in Leadership

 

As many of you know, I was given the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days with John Maxwell at his Leadership Conference in Orlando Florida last week. (You can read my initial reaction to winning the Leadership award here.)

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John shared a story that I thought was a great networking lesson, and it’s something I want to share with all of you.

He began his story when he was a very young pastor in the 1970s. He wanted to learn and grow in his field and he decided that he would try to interview ten of the most successful pastors from across the country. Being a thoughtful man, John realized that their time was valuable and he wanted to pay for it-but at the time, he only made $4,200 a year in salary.

John reached out to the ten pastors he wanted to seek advice from and offered them $100 each for less than an hour of their time to help mentor him in his journey. $100 each doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but multiplied by ten people that equaled almost one quarter of his annual income! But John felt that it was important to show them that he didn’t want something for nothing and would truly value their mentorship.

He went on to explain that only two people took him up on his request. He met with the two pastors, asked his questions, and received great information and took copious notes. Before he left each of them, he asked if they knew any of the eight remaining people on his list. He needed a referral!

Both of them new many of the remaining pastors, so John asked if they would be kind enough to call some of the other eight and make a personal introduction. Both men happily did so. After a short time, John was able to meet with all ten pastors because of the introductions that these two pastors made.

John obtained fantastic insights which enabled him to achieve many of his goals as a young man, and he did it through referral networking.

There were many lessons to be learned in this story, but here’s some of the ones that I got out of it:

  1. Don’t expect something for nothing. Asking for favors from people you don’t know, just doesn’t work well.
  2. Be prepared. Have well-thought out questions.
  3. Take notes and follow the advice.
  4. Most importantly, he asked these individuals if they felt this was worth their time. It was only after they said yes, that he asked for an introduction to the rest of the people on the list.

This last one is an important example of the referral process. He showed up prepared, stuck to the time he promised, did a good job and THEN asked for a laser specific referral if, and only if, they felt that the meeting was worth their time. John was successful because he knew how to be a professional, make a good impression, and then, and only then, ask for the referral.

Great story John.

 

The TRUE Definition of Networking

What is the true definition of business networking? I’m going to give it to you straight.

Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge and expand your sphere of influence. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

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.

Remember-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’ll grown abundantly.

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

This video is hosted by the Entrepreneur.com YouTube Channel, Networking for Success.

 

It’s actually NOT about who you know

When it comes to networking, the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” We’ve all heard it and we’ve probably all said it.

But I’m here to tell you it’s NOT about who or what you know, but about how well you know each other!

Networking can become a shallow game if you treat relationships like chess pieces, using them for you own best advantage. Instead, if you approach networking from a personal angle with a genuine desire to get to know others, you’ll have far greater success. But how can you deepen your existing relationships with people to get to the point where they’d be willing to help or refer you in the future?

1. Give them a personal call. I know, I know–calling someone on the phone is so dated. But hear me out. Sending an email or a text message won’t get you the same results as actually making the effort to pick up the phone and call someone. Set up a 1-2-1 meeting and DO NOT try to sell them. Set up this meeting to deepen the connection and start to build a professional relationship.  ID-100209414

2. Make personal calls to all the people who have helped or referred you business to you in the past. Ask them how things are going. Try and learn more about their current activities so you can help in some way.

3. Put together a “touch-point list” of fifty people you’d like to stay in touch with this year. Include anyone who has sent business your way in the past twelve months as well as any other prospects you’ve connected with recently. Send them cards on the next holiday, connect with them on social media, and stay connected in any other way you believe they are most interested in.

4. Two weeks after you’ve connected with them (from step 4) call them and see what’s going on. if they’re past clients or people you’ve talked to before, now is the perfect time to ask for a referral. If they’re prospects, perhaps you can set up an appointment to have coffee and find out if their plans might include using your services.

Selecting Your Business Networks

This video is hosted by Entrepreneur.com and can be found on The Networking for Success YouTube Channel.

Networking is the perfect way to help take your business to the next level. But putting your eggs in one basket and depending on one networking group to satisfy all your needs won’t work–and that’s coming from the Founder of the world’s largest referral network.

We all select different people in our lives that satisfy various needs that contribute to our well being; our parents provide comfort and guidance, our close friends provide support and cheer, our business relationships provide trust and honesty. While these satisfactions may overlap from group to group, it’s important to have more than one person you’re leaning on for all your emotional needs.

It’s the same with your networking groups! While you may find cheer and honesty in more than one group, it’s important to spread your interests to gain a varied support system.

When selecting your business networks, you need to understand which types are available so you can make an informed decision. There are five types:

1. Casual Contact: A gathering on people from many different professions, usually in a mixer environment

2. Strong Contact: Usually only allows one person per profession, get together very regularly

3. Community Service Clubs: An opportunity to rub elbows with other very successful people

4. Professional Associations: Trade organizations that are very specific in purpose

5. Online: Social Media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where networking is constant

To better understand which group fits you best, watch the video below.

 

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