"What’s In It For Me?" Networking

I recently received an e-mail from someone who read an article I wrote about collaboration and working together.  He said, “The type of networking you talk about describes the way things should work, but in the real world most people seem to have an attitude of what’s in it for me.”  He asked, “How can I prevent wasting my time and efforts on people, only to find that they have this kind of attitude?” 

The short answer to his question is this—stop hanging out with the wrong kind of people and start actively seeking out the right kind of people.  Trust me, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to getting stuck with the wrong people and in order to move beyond that and build the kind of network that wants to help YOU (knowing that you also want to help them) is a journey—not a destination. 

I have two suggestions to make finding the right networking partners easier. First, look for some of the signs relating to people who fit the profile of good networkers.  They include: 

  • People who ask how they can help you or what they can offer you (and mean it), before they ask anything from you.

 

  • Individuals who show that they are willing to work on creating a professional relationship over a period of time because they understand that they must develop credibility with you before asking for your business or your referrals.

 

  • Those who make the time to go beyond the normal business interactions with those from whom they want to be able to ask for support.

 

  • Professionals who understand that networking is more about farming than hunting and show it in their actions by making the effort to get to know you outside of the business environment whenever possible, knowing that the more of a friendship there is between you, the more expectations you can both have from each other’s networking efforts.

 

  • People who do what they can to bring business and contacts to you and their other networking partners, who share pertinent information with you, and invite you to business meetings that’ll position you favorably with others you need to get to know.

 

  • Individuals who give of their time and knowledge in order to help their referral sources succeed.

Second, immerse yourself in the process of relationship building.   

A network that is a mile wide and an inch deep is not a strong network.  Create a personal network that is both wide and deep.  Meeting with people regularly is the key to making this happen.  Participate in networking groups where you are going to see the same people on a regular basis.  This will help you develop relationships and screen out the what’s in it for me networkers.

The Levels of Referrals

A BNI member asked me the other day if it’s possible to learn to distinguish the difference between weak referrals and quality referrals. The answer is YES. Below are the things to consider in distinguishing between weak and strong referrals.

There are varying levels of referrals, starting at a level that’s just one step above a cold lead. These types of referrals are ranked in quality from lowest to highest. Number one is the lowest-ranked type of referral (the least desirable) to give and receive, and number eight is the highest (most desirable). You can use the referral level rankings below to help distinguish quality referrals from weaker ones.


1. Names and contact information only: Getting the name and contact information from a referral source is better than nothing—but not much.
2. Authorization to use name: This indicates you’ve established good credibility; however, the work of developing the prospect still rests with you.
3. General testimonial statement and/or letter of recommendation and introduction: This is a noteworthy accomplishment, and it demonstrates that the referral source trusts you.
4. Introduction call: This takes the effort on the part of the referral source up another notch and paves the way for communication from you.
5. Note or letter of introduction, call and promotion: This implies an even higher level of commitment on the part of the referral source. It is an outright recommendation of your business accompanied by a description of its features and benefits.
6. Arrange a Meeting: Here your referral source is acting as a facilitator for you. This conveys to your prospect that your referral source has a deep trust in and approval of your business.
7. Face-to-face introduction and promotion: Your referral source is now actively engaged in selling your product or business, rather than just being a meeting facilitator.
8. Closed deal: After your referral source has described the features and benefits of your product or business, he then closes the sale. This is the highest level of referral you can achieve.

Scorched-Earth Networking

I recently spoke at two different events in Southern California and I found it interesting that at each event, questions about whether there is a right or a wrong networking style were brought up by audience members.

It is a given that people can be very different from one another; therefore, there are some very different styles of networking. However, there is one style of networking that results in the ground practically smoking wherever some networkers tread. This style can be referred to as “scorched earth networking.” It is important to avoid this type of networking in cultivating a successful business networking model.

Avoid the hallmarks of a scorched-earth networker, which are listed below:

  • Moves from networking group to networking group—constantly dissatisfied with the quality of referrals received from each.
  • Talks more than listens.
  • Doesn’t “honor the event”—networks at inappropriate opportunities.
  • Thinks that being “highly visible” is enough to make business flow his or her way—ignores the need to build credibility.
  • Expects others to be consistently referring him or her—has a “get” and not “give” mentality. Views networking as a transaction, not a relationship.

Scorched-earth networking doesn’t work, because building your business through word-of-mouth is about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in.

 

As you network, look around at what you leave behind. Are you creating relationships by building your social capital (farming as opposed to hunting), or are you leaving a scorched earth and many bodies in your wake?

Better yet, have you experienced someone practicing scorched-earth networking? If so, share the story here.

Business, Networking, and Sex!

Look around… make sure no one is watching. You just clicked on a link from a business website to a blog article about “sex.” Well, I’m afraid it might not be what you think.

Do you wonder whether men and women approach networking differently? Well, I do. So do two associates of mine by the name of Hazel Walker and Frank De Raffele.

Sex is about how your body is put together. Gender is about the role you engage in daily. Male and female brains are hardwired differently. According to some experts, the male tends to be about taking action as related to goals (called instrumental functions by the scholars) and the female for the talking or for nurture that is related to relationships (called agency or interpersonal functions). Studies in 39 different countries highlight these differences.

Well, we want to see if this is true and how it plays out relating to the way that men and women network. So take a few minutes (really it will only take a few minutes) and join the 5,000 people who have already answered this survey. We will be sharing the results in an upcoming book, and you can say you were part of the survey!

Take the networking gender survey here.

In addition, feel free to post a message below relating to your thoughts on the subject.

Networking Globally

As the 2nd annual worldwide celebration of International Networking Week (www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com) wound to a close earlier this month, I found myself being reminded of how important it is to pay attention to some basic networking practices when networking internationally.

First of all, you need to make sure you are building a personal network of trust no matter what geographic location you are in.  If you want to build relationships that generate referrals, you have to take the time to gain trust and credibility within your network.

Here are a few basic networking lessons you should keep in mind when building relationships with foreign—and local—businesses:

  • Whether you like it or not, you do become part of a network, so make sure you leave a good impression.
  • Maintain and cultivate your network—even if only by sending holiday cards every year.  Encourage people to visit and stay with you whenever they’re in your area.
  • When seeking to use your network for information or advice, try to empower individuals in you network to feel that by helping you they’re helping someone else.
  • Be prepared to quickly build rapport and reinforce the positive expectations people have been given by their contacts.
  • Be cross-culturally aware.  There is a great website that helps people be aware of cultural differences that I highly recomend.  It’d called www.ExecutivePlanet.com and I use it before traveling to almost any country around the world.

The value of having your personal network of trust applies wherever you operate.  It’s particularly valuable in areas such as the Far East, where the culture of the community requires you to take time to build a trusting and mutually respectful relationship first.

So, You Know How to Network…But Do You Know How to Sell?

Sell is not a four-letter word. OK, it is a four letter word, but you know what I mean. …It’s not a “bad” word.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run across businesspeople over the years who are fantastic networkers, but they think that just because they know how to network, they don’t need to know how to sell. They think that people will like them, and then their products or services will sell themselves. This kind of mentality is unfortunate because people who think this way may be leaving business on the table.

Anybody who’s experienced and successful in referral marketing will tell you that sales skills are needed in every part of the referral marketing process–not just in closing the sale with the prospect.

From the very beginning, you must sell yourself to your potential referral source. A referral is not a guaranteed sale; it’s the opportunity to do business with someone to whom you’ve been recommended. You still have to close the deal. You have to make it clear that you know how to sell, and that you can and will provide the products or services you’re expected to provide. If you can’t make that first “sale,” your potential referral source won’t become your referral provider.

Beyond selling yourself to the referral source, you have to sell yourself to the prospect to get that first appointment. Then, once you’ve made the appointment, you have to persuade the prospect to buy your product or service. This is the part that usually comes to mind when you hear the word “sell.” However, in referral marketing, closing the deal with your prospect is neither the beginning nor the end of the selling process. The sales process is all about keeping an ongoing relationship with the client or customer. This is something that the best referral marketers know and understand.

A Networking BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious)

Trey McAlister, a certified trainer/coach with the Referral Institute and a BNI director in Northern California, was commenting to me the other day on a huge BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) he had about how and why professionals often become disillusioned with networking. Trey said he realized that many professionals go into networking events ignoring one of the principal “commandments” of networking, either by having the wrong goal in mind or not having one at all, and they therefore end up leaving disappointed. It is extremely important to set a goal before you go into a networking event to give yourself a sense of purpose and direction.

Now, another thing that Trey and I both know is that the two main reasons people might not enjoy networking events are that they 1) feel like everyone is trying to sell them (which many times may be true) and 2) they go to the event hoping to find either hot prospects or a bona fide client. The problem is that when you combine numbers one and two, it creates a recipe for discomfort and dissatisfaction. Trey pointed out that if people actually take to heart the definition of networking I suggested awhile back, “Networking is helping others as a way of growing your business,” they would go into and come out of networking events with better focus and have a much better and more productive time.

When Trey mentions this BFO in presentations, he reminds members of his audience that if they are truly “business” networking, then goals are a must. “Whether it is the number of people you want to meet or the types of people you want to include in your ‘contact sphere,’ ” he says, “you will be more productive and satisfied with your efforts if you set a goal.” Also, if you make sure to focus on others and not on yourself when you participate in networking events, you will be paving the way to start building relationships, you won’t appear to be selling, and you will be more enjoyable to talk to.

One of the last things Trey mentioned was something he said he remembered from being mentored by Tom Fleming (master trainer for the Referral Institute). Tom taught him to always go into mixers with the business networking attitude as opposed to the social networking attitude. If you go into a mixer ready to socialize or chat, you might as well leave the business networking for another time. By deciding to go into a mixer with a business networking attitude, you’ll undoubtedly improve your chances not only of feeling more satisfied when you leave, but also of having a happy networking experience.

Strategic Alliances The Right Way!

I recently had two organizations attempt to create a strategic alliance with BNI and the Referral Institute and I got two substantially different results.   

The first company (which shall remain nameless on the grounds that they like to attack folks they are not happy with via the media) contacted me and wanted to speak.  With them, it was a case of “Glad to meet you—let’s get married!”  I really got the sense that they wanted to GIVE me the privilege of sharing my entire database of contacts with them based on who they were and how amazing it would be for me to even say I had stood in their shadow!  Get the picture? 

When I explained our corporate philosophy and my own personal belief system that deepening a business alliance and building a relationship with a partner business took time and effort before getting to the “let’s get married” stage, they abruptly ended the call and (I’m sure) moved on down their computer-generated list of businesses to call.

By contrast, here is how the second organization (Brian Tracy University) approached the same issue:  Brian Tracy himself contacted me and started the conversation by asking me what our company goals were.  I shared with him that we recently set the goal of  “92 in ‘12” (9200 chapters by the year 2012).  The next statement from him was, “We want to help you achieve that!”

From there it went from “Glad to meet you” to “Let’s get to know each other better!”  Brian shared with me that he had ideas that could help us achieve our corporate goal and help our members do better business at the same time.  When I explained, as I had with company X, that our philosophy as a networking organization was one of mutual cooperation and that our belief was that anything that would really be of value to either of us would take time, he completely got it, respected it, and supported it!

If you want to create strategic alliance relationships with other companies, be sure you work with organizations that are willing to work with and respect your corporate culture and make sure to understand that the process takes time.  If you do, you will have great success with a business alliance. 

Our relationship has developed organically and we are now offering a very special program through the Brian Tracy University (www.briantracyu.com) to BNI members and Directors. I’m not sure how company X is faring; I don’t hear so much about their program anymore!  I wonder why? Hmmmm . . .

Looking back over two decades of building an international company, I can clearly see that no one person or company brought something to the table that launched my company to the next level.  Instead, it was the cumulative effect of many people, many strategic alliances, and many well-nurtured relationships with companies that were willing to get to know us and gradually, over time, build each other’s businesses through combined efforts.  Each contact, each opportunity to reach out to each other and each mutually beneficial activity served as just one more spoke in the wheel as we rolled up the hill toward success.

Fast Pitch Networking

In my monthly column on Entrepreneur.com, I wrote about the 5 Ways To Break Into Online Networking. One of the things I recommended was to “join one or more online networking communities.”

There are a lot out there to choose from today. However, there’s a new one on the web that I’m impressed with. It’s called FastPitchNetworking.com. It has many of the same features most online networks have, such as the ability to create a profile, and promote your website, blog and professional services, as well as the ability to connect with other people in the program. However, it has some new features, and one in particular that I really like.

The feature that I haven’t seen on any other online network is the press release program. Becoming a Premium Member for as little as $9 a month allows you to post unlimited press releases to 20 media outlets (including Google and Yahoo) that will promote your press release across the internet. Most PR services charge much more than that (believe me, I know).

In addition, members of the service have the ability to send their release to 50,000 members at a time and can choose which 50,000 to send to by industry, type and/or geography. FastPitch is the only social network that allows its members to leverage the network in this way.

I tried the service out just prior to International Networking Week to promote networking events around the world. Within a couple of days, I saw my press release promoted on Google and Yahoo!

I recommend my readers take a look. Click here for information on the press release program. For general information, click here.

I’d love to hear about your experiences on this online network and others.

Small Actions Yield Big Results

I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who is a partner in an international consulting and training company. We discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance who is a bestselling author and fairly well-known speaker. In our discussion, we found out that he had contacted each of us individually to see if there were any possibilities for some type of strategic alliance with our companies.

We were both open to that possibility but couldn’t see any immediate and dramatic way our companies could link up with his and do any specific projects at that time. We were both a bit amused to then discover that we were summarily “dropped” from his radar (no response to e-mails or other attempts to connect) after that.

We got the sense that he was looking for the one big alliance that would help his company soar to the next level. That realization started a conversation about the difference in the relationship between the two of us.

Ironically, we had had the same type of phone call with each other just 18 months earlier and came to the same conclusion. There was nothing on a grand scale we could do together at that moment. The difference, however, was the rest of the story.

We agreed to stay in touch. And then we did. We connected several times over the year and met in person on several occasions. During that time, we found some simple ways to help each other and gradually enhanced the relationship. This was in sharp contrast to the third party we had talked to individually. When this person didn’t see any big payoff, we became persona non grata to him. On the other hand, the two of us found ways to help each other gradually and, even to this day, continue to build on our relationship.

We came to the conclusion that most people who are successful at networking and creating strong strategic alliances view the process as a series of small actions taken with many people to create a long-term positive growth for your company. The process is more of a marathon than a sprint. Throughout the race, you form alliances and help each other over the long haul.

Have you had a similar experience? How has this played out in your business?

Welcome to International Networking Week

Welcome to the second annual International Networking Week (February 4-8, 2008).

Last year, thousands of people from around the world recognized the week, and even more are expected to recognize it this year during hundreds of large events and thousands of small events and networking meetings all around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world. It is about creating an awareness of the process of networking. Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking,” an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful relationships with people through the networking process.

International Networking Week has now been acknowledged by several governmental organizations (including proclamations from the governors of Nevada and Maryland, a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate, as well as the county supervisors for the County of Los Angeles).

If you belong to any networking groups, make sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week.

Below is an eight-minute video that talks about International Networking Week, 2008. Share the video with others and feel free to show it at your networking meetings during International Networking Week (you will note that I talk about this blog on the video):

 

Click Here for 2008 Video

Go to www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com for more information. Share with us here on the bulletin board. What will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?

The Three Core Competencies of Referral Success

Last week, I met with my business partner in the Referral Institute, Mike Macedonio (seen below with me), and as we were discussing what it really takes to drive your business by referral, one of the first things Mike mentioned was that the first core competency of referral success is the need for correct knowledge.  It didn’t surprise me that Mike would start with this; after all, we co-authored Truth or Delusion–Busting Networking’s Biggest Myths which directly adresses what works and what doesn’t work in referral marketing.  In the book, Mike paraphrases Mark Twain’s statement about having correct knowledge, which appropriately says something to the effect of, It’s not what you know that will stand in the way of your success as much as what you know which isn’t so.

The second core competency in successful referral marketing is to stay engaged with your referral marketing plan.  This is harder than it sounds.  Many referral marketing concepts are counter intuitive.  It’s like telling a driver to turn into a skid.  This is not the natural reaction.  Even when the driver understands it’s in his best interest to turn into the skid, it’s only when he does it that he learns how it actually works.

Referral marketing is the same way.  When we’re going out looking for more business, it’s natural to look for qualified prospects and approach them.  However, referral marketing shows us that we will be even more effective if someone who has a credible relationship with the prospect sent them to us.  We understand this is in our best interest, however it may not be our natural reaction.

So, how do you get the business owner to network in a way that may not come naturally? Some of the solutions Mike and I discussed are to:

*  Stay connected to blogs and podcasts on networking
*  Participate in networking groups
*  Get involved in ongoing referral trainings

The first two core competencies, obtaining correct knowledge and staying engaged with your referral marketing plan, apply to any personal or professional development programs and it is important to keep in mind that though they may be “simple,” they’re not “easy.”

The third core competency, implementing a system to train your network on how to refer you business, is the missing piece that most business people do not have in place to create referral success.  No matter how brilliant you are in referral marketing, or how skillful you are in “leaning into the punch,” if your referral partners are inadequate your results will be insufficient.

Mike gave a great football analogy for this.  He said, “What if Tom Brady, the most successful quarterback at this time, were to get on the field with a team that was lacking skills and knowledge of the game?  Tom Brady would be throwing perfect spirals to players who can’t catch and don’t know their assignments.  It wouldn’t take long for Tom to recognize that he’s better off just keeping the ball and running.  This could be equated in business to direct prospecting.  It is hard work for short yardage.

So, what can we learn from this?  That if you make the three core competencies a priority, you will not only be on the right track for referral success, you will also be gaining much more “yardage” from your efforts!

What has your experience been and/or how do you think you can apply these ideas to your business?

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
1 50 51 52 53 54 55
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox