Year-End is Time for Vision Making

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, California, to recharge my batteries. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give some thought to the vision you have for your business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The new year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond). Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time at the end of every year to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business. Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for 2012.

This is what I did back in the mid 1980’s when I had some time to reflect on this little networking enterprise that I started, called BNI.  It was during one of these year-end retreats that I created an organization chart for my company as part of my 5 year plan.  At the time, I had two part-time employees.  However, I created an organization chart with 15 different boxes on it.  I put my name in about 11 or 12 of the boxes for the areas I was responsible for and I put my part-timer’s names in the boxes for the areas they were responsible for.

Over the next 5 years, I scratched my name out of each box and put someone else’s name in that box as I hired someone to handle that area.  It was a great exercise that helped me achieve my goals over the next 5 years and it came from one of my year-end retreats.  Clearing your mind and thinking about your the future of your business can be a very good thing this time of year.  Even if you only have a couple days – get away and do some vision making.

If you use this time of year to think about your goals for the future, tell me what you do here in my blog.

Have a great New Year!

Ivan

 

Visit WorkingOnIt.com and Build Business with Systems

In this video, Michael Gerber and I discuss one simple idea: SYSTEMS.

I used Michael’s ideas about systems to build my business and as a result, my networking organization has grown to over 6,000 chapters in 50 countries around the world.

Watch this video to find out more about building business with systems and about Michael’s new website www.WorkingOnIt.com–a fantastic resource for business owners and entrepreneurs around the world.

Susan RoAne Shares One of “The Secrets of Savvy Networking”

When it comes to networking, we’ve all unfortunately encountered people who believe that the simple act of meeting another person entitles them to ask that other person to share their contacts with them in order to try to drum up more referrals.

In this video, Susan RoAne, my good friend and an international networking expert who consistently puts out some of the most outstanding content on networking around, explains why anybody who believes that networking is an “entitlement program” (i.e., the type of people who meet you once and think you should share your contacts with them) is completely off track and will never get any referrals while operating under that perception.

The concept that networking is an “enrichment program” as opposed to an “entitlement program” is one of the fresh, powerhouse ideas unique to Susan’s latest book The Secrets of Savvy Networking.  I highly encourage you to go to www.SecretsOfSavvyNetworking.com to learn about the book and/or visit www.SusanRoAne.com for more information about Susan Roane.

Share your feedback on Susan’s content and/or your thoughts about this video in general in the comments section–we’d love to hear from you!

Entrepreneurial DNA

One of the reasons I am so endlessly passionate about business networking and finding new ways to inspire the growth of businesses around the world is because I absolutely love surrounding myself with people who exude the entrepreneurial spirit.

As children, we have the sense that “the world is our oyster,” so to speak, and that anything is possible.  Unfortunately, over time, many people lose this sense of wonder and adventure and the accompanying faith that anything is possible.  Entrepreneurs, however, never lose this open-minded outlook about opportunities and possibilities and we have a constant desire to make a unique mark on the world.  This is why I am continuously inspired by the entrepreneurs I meet in my travels across the globe and why I will continue to focus much of my effort on encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial enterprise in much of what I speak about and write about.

So, when I recently read a book called Entrepreneurial DNA written by Joe Abraham, Founder of the BOSI Performance Institute, and realized what a powerful tool it is for entrepreneurs, I couldn’t wait to share it.  I was so impressed by the content that I endorsed it as the ultimate roadmap to building a thriving business and life as an entrepreneur.  I would like to encourage entrepreneurs in every part of the world to read this book because I believe it offers tools to optimize your entrepreneurial business endeavors that you won’t find anywhere else.

Joe has outlined a breakthrough entrepreneurial profiling system called the BOSI system which empowers entrepreneurs to align their business to their unique strengths because, clearly, all entrepreneurs are not the same.  As the inside cover of Entrepreneurial DNA states:

Entrepreneurial DNA proves the simple but critical fact that not all entrepreneurs are cut from the same cloth.  After all, nobody would put Donald Trump, a multilevel marketer, and the owner of a local pizza parlor in the same category.  Everyone possesses unique entrepreneurial “DNA”–and discovering yours is the critical first step to success.

To help you build a successful business or optimize results within your current business, serial entrepreneur and business strategist Joe Abraham has developed the BOSI system–a simple, structured process for determining your own entrepreneurial tendencies, strengths, and growth areas.  With the BOSI system, you can create a strategic plan mapped to your entrepreneurial DNA that will improve all aspects of your business and leadership journey. (The) system provides four entrepreneurial categories that people fall into.  Which type of entrepreneur are you?

Builder:  Strategic, always looking for the upper hand
Talent: creating scalable business ventures

Opportunist:  Speculative, always in the right place at the right time
Talent: making money fast

Specialist: Focused, in it for the long term
Talent: providing exceptional client service

Innovator:  Inventive, with a desire to make an impact
Talent: creating game-changing products

If you are an entrepreneur, you owe it to yourself and your business to read this book–you’ll thank me later. 🙂

To learn more about Entrepreneurial DNA, CLICK HERE.

To order the book through Amazon, CLICK HERE.

To order the book through Barnes and Noble, CLICK HERE.

JT Foxx’s Key to Networking with Millionaires

In this video, I’m talking with my good friend JT Foxx about his ideas on making connections with the wealthy and how to effectively get them to take notice of your business.

JT has some great advice when it comes to the art of networking with extremely successful people who can often be very difficult to network and connect with, and I can say from my own observations of JT’s networking tactics that he certainly walks the walk and has proven time and again how effective his approach really is.

If you like what you hear in the video, be sure to check out JT’s website (www.MegaPartnering4.com) which offers all the details about JT’s upcoming October 2011 event Mega Partnering 4.  This event in Chicago is one of the top, large-scale networking events in the world and brings together some of the most successful people from across the globe to build relationships.

So, what do you think of JT’s ideas?  Have you had success networking with in-demand, successful, hard-to-connect-with people using JT’s tactics or other networking tactics?  I’d love to hear your comments . . .

“Tell To Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story”

Peter Guber, Chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, has a powerful new book coming out on March 1st called Tell To Win.

This book is not only an extremely interesting read, it is also an important resource for networkers in every part of the world.  Peter is a master storyteller and, with this book, he teaches readers how to achieve success in business and life by connecting with people and engaging them on an emotional level through the power of stories.

I met Peter at one of his storytelling symposiums which he conducted in preparation for this very book and, I can assure you that if there is one person in the world with the expertise to teach others how to change lives through the power of stories, it’s Peter.  Tell To Win offers dynamic storytelling techniques that are greatly beneficial in a face-to-face networking setting. Below I have pasted an excerpt of Peter’s words, specifically discussing the importance of telling your story in a face-to-face environment.  If you find this material useful, which I have no doubt you will, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy of Peter’s new bookLearning how to connect with others through storytelling is an ability that will continue to serve you well throughout your entire lifetime.  It is an invaluable skill that you will be endlessly grateful for obtaining and, as you can tell from Peter’s words below, he is the ultimate teacher.

The highest and best use for telling purposeful stories in the room, face-to-face, breathing the same air and reading each other’s micro-expressions–something you can’t do in any other medium.  In writing my new book, Tell To Win, I conversed with the foremost folks in technology–people like Chris Kemp, chief information officer at NASA Ames Research Center, Phil McKinney, the chief technology officer at Hewlett Packard, Arianna Huffington, founder of the Huffington Post, and many others–and asked them if digital or state-of-the-art technology could replace what I call state-of-the-heart technology.  Their response was an overwhelmingly consistent “not at this time.”  In fact, Arianna said it best when she asserted in front of one of my masters UCLA classes (I’ve been a professor at UCLA for over 30 years), that the more time we spend in front of screens, the more we crave the intimate in-person interactions where we tell our stories to realize our dreams.  And, she didn’t stop there!  She exhorted my students that if there’s something incredibly important upon which everything depends, you always want to be in the room.

You can’t yet duplicate the same effects of telling oral stories in the same room, breathing the same air, pressing the flesh.  However, many of the critical elements of telling purposeful stories work in other mediums.  Always motivation comes first which starts with you–your intention.  This authenticity must shine through.  The trick is not to try to be interesting, but to be interested–know what your audience is interested in and deliver what’s in it for them.  All good telling of stories has a goal–the action you want your listener to take.  Don’t hide it.  Interactively engage your listener, your audience, so it’s not a monologue, but a dialogue.  It is a conversation in which the telling becomes a “we” experience rather than a “me” experience.  A critical marker is the willingness of the teller to surrender proprietorship over the story so the listener can own it and viral market it as her own.  The story content is lurking everywhere–first person experience is best, but equally powerful is an observed event, a movie/book/artifact, or even a metaphor or analogy.

To learn more about Peter Guber and Tell To Win, please visit: http://www.peterguber.com/telltowin


International Networking Week 2011

Welcome to International Networking Week, 2011!

Take a few minutes to check out the video for International Networking Week® 2011, on YouTube!

The short, eight-minute video discusses the history and significance of this event which will be recognized across the globe February 7-11, 2011. It also explains a concept many networkers fail to recognize but which all networkers need to be aware of–the ‘networking disconnect’.

This is the fifth year for International Networking Week® and it is now recognized by many countries around the world, with thousands of events being held during the Week. One of the main goals of the week is to help businesspeople everywhere build their networking skills.

For additional information about International Networking Week, go to www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

Also – you should know that this week is the birthday of www.Ecademy.com. Ecademy is my favorite online social media outlet for business. A big Happy Birthday to Penny and Thomas Power – the Founder and the Chairman for Ecademy!

Making Connections to Start Your Own Business

I recently got asked a really great question on Ask Entrepreneur: Where do I get connected with people who can help me open a business?

Though there is evidence that business is currently on the rise and the economy is moving in a positive direction, the recent downturn in the economy prompted many people who found themselves unemployed to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit and consider starting their own business.

This begs the question above–are there efficient ways to get in touch with people who can help you start your own business?

The answer is yes, and here are my three recommendations:

1) Go through your contacts and talk to people you personally know who have started a business. Set an appointment.  Let them know what you are doing and ask if they’d give you an hour of mentoring.  If possible, meet with them in person.  Show up with specific questions written out in advance.  Send them the questions prior to the meeting so they have a good understanding of what kind of information you’re looking for.  When you meet, focus on those questions, write down the answers, and stick to the time frame you promised.  If the conversation goes well, ask if you can meet with them in the future.  Follow this process with two or three people who have opened a business successfully.  I guarantee you will find this to be very valuable.

2) Find a business coach who has experience with start-up businesses. Hire them to coach you through the process.

3) Read, read, read!  There are a lot of books out there on opening a business. I have personally reviewed many of the books published by Entrepreneur Press on starting a business and they are excellent.  Go to EntrepreneurPress.com to see some of them.

I strongly encourage anyone genuinely interested in starting their own business to pursue the endeavor. I have owned my own business for almost thirty years (that’s a picture of me at top right, when I first started my company, BNI, and was running it from my house and garage with only one other employee in the mid ’80s) and it continues to be an amazing and fulfilling journey. I don’t think I would ever go back to working for someone else.

How to Make Networking Comfortable

Very few people argue with the value of networking, so why do people resist doing it? Aside from all the excuses–I don’t have time, I’m not a good networker, I don’t like to network–what’s the REAL reason people resist networking?  I was reading a book the other day called “Manifesting for Non-Gurus,” which was written by my friend Robert MacPhee (pictured at right) whom I’m in the Transformational Leadership Council with, and the book explains a concept which I think gets right to the core of this question–Comfort Zones.

The real reason most people do not network is because it makes them uncomfortable.

We’ve all heard about the concept of Comfort Zones before.  However, Robert explains it in a very unique way. He talks about how our resistance to doing something new often shows up as wanting to continue to do what is comfortable–even if it is not working well for usIn outlining his “Manifesting for Non-Gurus” approach, Robert explains that a comfort zone exists when our beliefs about who we are match the results we are getting. Think about it . . . if you consider yourself to be a great networker, do you show up at a networking meeting or event and present yourself differently than someone who thinks of himself as a poor networker?  Who is more comfortable?

Are you a great networker?

Hopefully you can answer this question with a highly-confident YES.  Unfortunately, most businesspeople would probably answer with a resounding NO.  Their image of themselves is of not being a great networker so, to remain comfortable, they will avoid networking, despite the fact that they know networking is valuable. Crazy, right?  Yet, we all know people who do this.

Fortunately, Robert explains that there is a very simple solution for anyone stuck in this kind of comfort zone.  It starts with a simple decision that part of who you are is a great networker. To declare that you love meeting new people, sharing what you do, and helping them in any way you can.  Start thinking about networking events as the valuable, exciting opportunities they are, instead of as dreaded situations that will pull you from your comfort zone.  This is the way successful networkers see themselves and perceive networking functions and that is a huge part of why they are successful networkers.

So, what about that voice in your head saying, “What about the evidence that seems to support the fact that I am not such a great networker?”  Well, according to Robert, that’s just your comfort zone crying out to reel you back in because the “I am a great networker” statement doesn’t match your current results.  If a “great networker” is who you want to be, the next step is to continue to declare that you are a great networker and “act as if” until the results you want start to show up!  This is the same thing you have done your whole life with any new skill you successfully learned.

Robert teaches a simple five step approach to making these kinds of changes more quickly and easily, getting out of our current comfort zones, trying new things and creating the lasting results we want.  I highly recommend his work.  Maybe we can get him to write “Networking for Non-Gurus” next . . . 😉

For more information about Robert and his work, please visit www.ManifestingMonth.com.

My Marriott Experience

UPDATE:  Before you read this blog (which was posted on Saturday the 8th), I’d like to give an update.  I was contacted by John, the Director of Customer Advocacy at the Marriott Hotels.  He contacted me when he heard of my complaint.  He handled the situation with concern and professionalism.  He also made the matter right in the best way I think he could.  All companies make mistakes, attempting to make it right says a lot about a company.  Thanks John for your follow up.

Just yesterday I wrote about the great experience I had at the Apple Store in Southern California and now one day later I have a great example of how NOT to treat a customer.  I’ve been staying at the Marriott Desert Springs Vacation Villas in Palm Desert for the last several days.  I brought more than a dozen members of my executive management team here for a 3 day strategic planning meeting during which time we had all our meals on site, some golfed on site and some used the hotel’s spa facilities.

Checkout for the facility is at 10am (10am—how many hotel/villas have a 10am checkout!?).  OK, it doesn’t matter—I called more than an hour before checkout time and asked for an 11am checkout.  The Marriott recption desk attendant said, “Sure, if you want to pay an additional $50!”  Really? $50 more to check out at 11am?!!!  I told Melissa at the front desk that I brought more than a dozen people here for the last three days and charging me $50 to check out at 11am didn’t really seem appropriate.  She said they charge everyone—period.

Now here is where it gets really interesting.  I told her, “I brought 12 people for three nights and put them up in three – 2 bedroom villas and you won’t give me an hour later checkout?  If that is the case, I’ll never come back here again.  If you’re OK with that, I’m OK with that.”  And her answer was… wait for it… wait for it…. “Yes,” she actually said: “I’m OK with that.” 

So let’s go back to the “experience.”  This employee could have acted like she cared and maybe even asked her manager (which I requested).  But no, her answer was a “No,” end of discussion.

It wasn’t the $50 that was the big issue for me.  After spending thousands to bring my team there – $50 was not a big deal.  What really frustrated me was the fact that she didn’t seem to care if we ever came back or not.  It was not important to her.   The quality of customer service is so different from company to company and even locations within a company.  My experience here—was bad.  And Melissa should be happy to know that she has motivated me to not come back again.  Well done, Melissa.

Oh, if only Apple ran a hotel.  That would be an amazing place to stay.

My ‘Apple’ Experience

It was a few days before Christmas and the malls were incredibly packed.  My eldest daughter needed a new Apple laptop for college and I was going to get her one as a Christmas gift.

Apple’s in-store customer service is legendary and I would soon experience it firsthand. I went to Victoria Gardens, an outdoor mall near my home in Southern California.  I walked up to the entrance of the Apple Store and the first thing I saw was that the place was wall to wall people. No, really – I’m not exaggerating – it was literally wall to wall people.  I think if there were any more people in that store the Fire Marshal would have had to empty the place.

I stood at the door and was dreading the idea of going into this packed store and waiting forever for service. I took a deep breath and walked through the entrance.  I was no more than two steps into the store when I was greeted by an Apple employee. I expected her to instruct me where I needed to go in order to take a number and wait for service.  Instead, she said, “how can I help you?” I was a little surprised but, I told her what I was looking for.  While standing in the middle of the store she paged someone from a mobile device.  She told me he was the expert and could set me right up with what I needed.  After a few moments Chris was standing next to me answering my questions.

Within minutes of walking through the door I picked what I wanted.  Chris swiped my credit card with his telephone and instantly sent the receipt to my email address.   The entire transaction was done in a fraction of the time I expected in a store that was busier than I thought possible.

A good friend of mine, Stewart Emery wrote a book called “Do You Matter?” A major premise of the book is the idea that customer service is all about the “experience” people have in the transaction of business.  I’ve been to the Apple store a few times now and I can say with conviction that each time has been an amazing experience in customer service.

Another thing Stewart talks about in his book, which the Apple company seems to truly understand,  is that “culture eats strategy for breakfast.”  The Apple culture of customer service is light years ahead of any other computer company I have done business with – period. No computer company has come close to giving me such great customer service (some other computer companies even rank amongst the worst service I’ve ever had).

Well done Apple.  I will be back again… and again, and again.

If you’ve had a similar customer-service experience, I’d really enjoy hearing it.  Please leave a comment and tell me about it.

50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs

I am excited to announce that this blog was listed as #26 in the list of “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs”!

Here’s what they said:

“Networking Entrepreneur: Even if you think you’re a pro at networking, check this blog for new tips and strategies as your business grows. Recommended Posts: Make No Assumptions and Clueless When It Comes To Conversing? Four Tips

The list, published by OEDb (Online Education Database), was created as a resource for young entrepreneurs who are looking to learn some basic business principles and discover how to communicate and collaborate in the real world before finding success.  Divided into categories (“Tools & Resources,” “Inspiration & Testimonials,” “Tips & Education,” “Industry News,” and Insights “From Young Entrepreneurs”), the list presents the top blogs that will help you communicate, collaborate, master the science of SEO and social media marketing, shake hands like a professional, and more.

Young entrepreneur or not, this list contains a cornucopia of excellent links that will provide you with an endless amount of useful information.

I’m honored to be included in this list of the “50 Best Blogs for Young Entrepreneurs” and I encourage all of my blog readers to check out the list and explore the great (and FREE)  information that’s out there to help contribute to your success!

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