A Networking Trick for the 21st Century

Years ago I wrote about a great technique to get people to come to me for their referral needs.  However, I recently saw a modern twist to this great idea that I’d like to share with you today.

Here’s a little background information on the original concept:

Since the late ’80s I’ve been training people to use a little networking trick that will enable them to give referrals to more people (which of course leads to getting more referrals for themselves).  I talk about this trick in one of my early columns for Entrepreneur.com as well as a blog I wrote last year entitled: Use This Networking Trick to Increase Business.

In a nutshell, the technique is to compose a letter that you give to your clients and contacts which states that an important part of your business is to give referrals to people looking for services that you recommend (you can find a more detailed explanation, along with a sample letter, by clicking on the link given above).

Here’s the interesting, modern twist:

Terry Burkot has created a 21st century version of this same networking technique by adding video to the equation.  She still sends a personal message to all the people in her network; however, she doesn’t write a letter, she instead sends a video message which really utilizes the tools we have available to us in this world full of constantly-evolving technology.

Terry used my idea (which was so last century :)) and really improved on it.  Well done, Terry!

I’d love to hear your comments on what you think of this modern twist to networking.

Lessons Learned Wearing a Nametag for 10 Years

Scott Ginsberg is celebrating his tenth anniversary. He’s been wearing a nametag for 10 years in a row. He has never taken it off. That’s right, 10 years = three thousand, six hundred and fifty days = 87,600 hours = 5 million two hundred fifty six thousand minutes = 31 million 531 thousand seconds and counting. He’s the world record holder. He has even tattooed his nametag on his chest and is the only person in the world who has made a career out of wearing a nametag.

Scott developed the nametag profession as a way to teach people how to overcome their shyness and the awkwardness of making that first introduction. In the process, he has become the authority on how to be approachable and turn being approachable into being profitable.

And now he’s taking a crack at trying to jumpstart the whole of humanity to evolve to a whole new realm of human ability.

 “-able is the title of his newest book. In it you will find 35 strategies for increasing the probability of success in business and in life including:

  •  How to be more findable than a smile at a nudist colony
  •  How to be more referable than an attorney hopped up on sodium pentothal
  •  How to be more salable than a case of Coors Light at a Colorado Rockies tailgate party.
  •  And more advance-able, more book-able, more brand-able, more buzz-able, more callback-able, sought-after-able and unstop-able in everything you are trying to achieve in life, and much more.

Scott Ginsberg theory is this: The only thing in life that you have control over is yourself, and that you can’t make anything happen — but you can greatly increase the probability of that thing happening … by making yourself more –able.

In –able, Scott Ginsberg offers up a collection of life-learned practices for advancing things along with wit and humor and wisdom that will have your head spinning in no time flat.

Here are some examples directly from Scott’s book:

1. Ideas are free; execution is priceless. Anybody can wear a nametag. But not anyone can leverage a simple idea into a six-figure enterprise. Lesson learned: Your biggest advantage is when nobody can keep up with you. You have to be dangerously prolific. And refuse to slow down long enough for anyone to catch up. That’s how you out-execute the competition. And here’s how: First, executional velocity. Take action quickly. Second, executional volume: Take action prodigiously. Third, executional value: Take action exquisitely. Finally, executional vitality: Take action consistently. Are you an idea person or an execution person?

2. Never be stopped by not knowing how. Accept that the planets will never be aligned. Don’t wait until everything’s perfect. Don’t wait until you’re experienced enough. Don’t wait until you know what you’re doing. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence to trust yourself. Heighten your impatience; enter into the heart of action and jump off the high board hoping there’s water below. Otherwise procrastination -– the redneck second cousin of patience –- will rob you of the motivation you need to carry in the cavalry charge. Finished is the new perfect. How will you leverage impatience as fuel for your motivation?

3. Ambition without focus is bankruptcy. How you spend your day -– literally, hour by hour -– will determine how much money you make, how happy you are, how healthy you are and how successful you become.  You almost have to force yourself to create a typical day. Otherwise you get cabin fever and your time not only manages you, it drives you insane. I’m not suggesting you choreograph every waking hour of your life. The challenge is designing a typical day for you, which enforces (some) structure and predictability, while still leaving room for spontaneity and playfulness. As long as you constantly ask yourself if what you’re doing -– in this moment -– is consistent with your No. 1 goal. Have you pictured your ideal day yet?

4. Anonymity is biggest barrier to success. I wear a nametag 24-7. I literally have zero anonymity whatsoever. I’m not suggesting you do the same. In fact, I strongly suggest you do not wear a nametag 24-7. About a fourth of the time, it’s a flat-out pain in the ass. But consider the adverse relationship between anonymity and profitability. A good start would be to throw away your marketing plan and begin writing a visibility plan. Because it’s not who you know –- it’s who knows you –- and, whose life is significantly better because they know you. How are you making people aware of you?

If you read Scott’s new book, let me know what you think.

Personality in a Deck of Cards

Everyone wants to learn about their personality style.  This is especially true with people who understand the value of networking.  But most people don’t like taking boring written quizzes and assessment.PPoker-book70

Enter “Personality Poker” – what I think is a fun and interactive way to learn about your personality.

Personality Poker is played with a specially designed deck of cards. They look like regular poker cards except they also have words printed across the faces. The words are personality descriptors like organized, analytical, empathetic and creative.

For those who know poker, Personality Poker is played like 5 card draw. Participants receive 5 random cards and swap/trade cards until they get a hand with words that best describe their personality. Based on the suits, the colors, and numbers that they end up with, the player will learn everything about their personality.

The suits represent the four main styles:

Spades. These are the analytical, data-oriented people.

Diamonds. These are the stereotypical “creative” individuals. They like ideas and experiences.

Clubs. These are the people who “plan the work and work the plan.” They’re more about structure and action. Bottom-line results are critical.

Hearts. These people are all about relationships. They make decisions based on what others think and are more empathetic and supportive.

The numbers represent the “energy styles” and provide deeper insights into the personalities.

The 2, 3 and 4 cards represent the unproductive behaviors associated with each style. For example, being “organized” is great, but being “anal retentive” may be less desirable.

The 5 – 9 cards represent the “introverted” styles. Although these individuals may prefer more solitary work, taken more broadly, introversion also includes a tendency to be more easily overwhelmed by stimuli that are deemed too intense. They prefer predictability and a low likelihood of risk.

The 10 – A cards represent the “extroverted” styles. They thrive on higher energy activities. Although they may not be as good at focusing on single tasks, they get energy from action rather than reflection and are known for their ability to motivate others to get things done.

The last dimension of Personality Poker is reflected by the colors that symbolize the two primary “thinking styles.”

Rational/Analytical. The black cards (spades/clubs) are more rational and are the ones who put the “no” in innovation. Knowledge and expertise are a cornerstone of their thinking style.

Relational/Creative. The red cards (diamonds/hearts) are more relational and are the ones who put the “fun” in dysfunctional. While employees enjoy their leadership style, the business could end up in the “red” if someone with red cards is in charge as they are not as organized or focused on the bottom line.

What is particularly fun is to “gift” cards to others. That is, find cards that describe people you work with and give them those cards. It is an interesting insight to see if you see yourself differently than others see you.

Although Personality Poker was primarily developed as a tool for driving innovation in corporations, people enjoy finding out about themselves in a fun and interactive way. You may never look at yourself–or your co-workers–the same way!

Click here to find out more about the book.

For those of you who read the book and play the game, please come back and leave a comment letting me know what you think about it!

‘Mastering the World of Selling’

When one of your business relationships passes you a referral, don’t assume that the prospect is ready to hear a presentation on your product or service. When an associate passes you a referral, say thanks . . . then start digging for more information.

You will want to determine whether what you offer is a fit for what the prospect needs.  Taking the time to do this upfront saves a lot of time and energy–for both you and the prospect. Exactly what does the prospect do? What products or services does he want from you? Will your offerings truly fulfill his needs? What is his behavioral style? What are his business goals? How large is his company?

Even with the referral in hand, don’t skip steps in your sales process. Before you approach the prospect, decide on a strategy based on whatever you can find out about him–the same as you would when preparing for any sale. Although the prospect was referred to you, all you’ve really received is an opportunity to approach the prospect with a favorable introduction. (This is not a bad thing–a single referral can open the door to a prospect it may have taken weeks, months or even years to connect with–if you even could at all.)  But whether the prospect becomes a client or not depends on how well you convince him that what you offer, at the price and under the conditions you offer it, will fulfill his needs.

It’s always a good idea to consistently hone your sales skills and strategies. If you need a good sales resource, look no further than Mastering the World of Selling.  It’s a brand-new book by Eric Taylor and David Riklan, and it contains one of the greatest collections of sales training wisdom for the 21st century that I’ve ever come across. It features sales strategies and advice from 89 of the world’s top experts including Brian Tracy, Zig Ziglar, Tom Hopkins, Jeffrey Gitomer, yours truly and more. 🙂  To find out more about Mastering the world of Selling, click here.

Do you have any dynamite sales wisdom that you’ve picked up over the years?  If so, I invite you to share it here by leaving a comment–there’s no such thing as too much useful information.  Thanks!

Greatest Weaknesses in Networking

Based on a survey that I just completed of more than 12,000 business professionals from all over the world, “being unable to turn relationships into business opportunities” and “using a follow-up system” are the two greatest weaknesses that people identified relating to networking (see the graph below).

This tracks well with what I’ve seen over the past several decades relating to the concerns that businesspeople have regarding their networking efforts.

Turning relationships into business and follow-up are important networking skills that most people have concerns about.  One of the best database management systems and follow-up tools I’ve seen in years is the Relate2Profit.com program. It’s a great tool for creating “touch points” with people to turn relationships into business opportunities, and it provides an excellent follow-up system that is “referral-centric.”

Take a look at the system.  Mike Zinni, the developer of the program, has kindly offered to give all my readers a lifetime discount of 50 percent for the program.  Just use the code: Ask-Ivan for the discount.

I think it’s well worth trying out, and I’d love to hear what you think of it!

‘Relationships are Irrelevant!’ Really?

Last week I wrote a blog called “Premature Solicitation,” which was about a situation where someone whom I had never met and didn’t know asked me to introduce him and his product to a very important connection of mine.

I shared this blog in a couple of venues, including one of my favorite online social networks.  A great dialog ensued with most people sharing their horror stories and frustrations about people who pounce on them at networking meetings asking for business even though they’ve never met the person before.

Every time I start to think this is an almost universal feeling of distaste for that approach to networking, I am brought back to reality by the minority of people who still think that this is actually a good networking technique.

To my astonishment, someone on the forum actually wrote:

“I don’t happen to believe that you need a relationship with the person you are asking first. What you must have is a compelling story or product/service that would genuinely benefit the referral . . .

The fact that you had not cultivated a relationship with the person has become irrelevant because, more importantly, you had been in a position to help [your contact] benefit from the introduction.  If it’s of genuine benefit to the person being referred, I don’t see the problem . . .

It’s about the benefit of what’s being referred rather than the relationship with the person asking for the referral . . .

Who am I to deny my contacts of something good?”

Wow.  What can I say?  The “relationship” is irrelevant! All you have to have is a good story, product or service and I owe it to any stranger (who says he or she has a good product) to introduce him or her to a good contact of mine!  Really? People really think this way!? According to this writer, it doesn’t matter if I actually know or trust the person wanting the business.  As long as the person has a good product (or so he says), I should refer that person because I would “deny” my contacts “something good!”

Networkers against Premature Solicitation unite!  We need to teach people that this is NOT a good way to network.  After reading my blog, a good friend of mine, TR Garland, started a Facebook page called: Facebook Users Who are Tired of Premature Solicitation (Oh My)! Take a look at it and sign up!

Also–tell me here in this blog what you think about the quotes above.  Do YOU want to get hit up by people at networking events this way?  Please tell me I’m not alone!  Networking is about relationship building–not “pouncing” on people because you think you have something good to sell them!

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