In this video, I share with John Maxwell how BNI started with my personal need to build my business with referrals. I also share who are my mentors and the philosophy of Givers Gain. Finally, we discussed how you should make decisions based on the information you are provided WITHIN the context of your value system. Please click on the photo below to watch the video of my personal interview with John Maxell.
Make your time and efforts worthwhile in networking groups. Success in networking comes from building trust with the other members in your networking group. Ivan Misner shares his Top 10 ways many people waste their time networking in this video.
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.
How many times have you seen an entrepreneur go to an event, meet people, and never talk to them again? Contacts are valuable, and your relationships are currency. Don’t fall into this networking pitfall. When it comes to your contacts, it is how well you know each other that counts, not how many contacts you have.
What is the best way for you to grow and utilize your relationships? Check out my latest video on my Networking for Success YouTube channel by clicking here, or by looking below.
Over the years I’ve recognized that there are some people who are positive and supportive individuals that I really want to be around. They are solutions focused relating to most problems and are almost always willing to talk through challenges with a positive end in mind. These people are engines. They help me be my best self and they motivate me to drive forward.
I’ve also noticed, as I’m sure you have, that there are some people who complain as though it were an Olympic event (for the record – it’s not!). They tend to be negative, argumentative, and obsessed with problems. I’ve learned not to spend much time with these people because they focus on all the things that are wrong relating to most challenges. If all someone does is focus on problems – they become an expert on problems and not on the solutions. These people are anchors, they hold me back and weigh me down.
Who do you surround yourself with: engines or anchors? This is an important question for everyone. It’s particularly important if you are trying to build a powerful personal network of people around you. Is your network full of people who are engines helping you go to the next level in your life or your career? Or, are they anchors weighing you down with the plethora of issues, problems, and complaints? Do they hold you back, or do they drive you forward?
The funny thing here is that no-one thinks they’re an anchor. No one! Of course they’ll tell you that they are an engine – they just do not like the direction you are going and that’s why they come across the way they do. For the record – they’re an anchor – with a motor attached. My advice is to call for “all hands on deck,” cut loose the anchors in your life, partner up with your fellow engines and go full-speed ahead.
When is the right time to ask a contact for a favor? Building a relationship takes time, and cashing in your relationship capital before it has earned enough interest can be devastating. Click the graphic above, or click here, to hear more on this.
Do the people you know consider their relationship with you to be valuable? Are you a “Value-Added Friend?” At first glance, it may seem like a way of allowing friends and connections to “use” you, but in reality it just helps solidify the likelihood of a long term relationship with that individual.
Powerful and successful business people want their networks to be strong, deep, and broad. You want your relationship to help strength, deepen, and expand the networks of others. So how do you do this? How do you become a Value-Added Friend?
Get to know the people who make up your referral team. You want to do more than scratch the surface – you want to really know these people, and you want them to feel like they know you as well. Be aware of how they react to you, and don’t ask them too personal or invasive questions. Understand their goals – learn how you can help them. Once you help someone achieve a goal, you become a Value-Added Friend.
So, how? How do we deepen relationships and become a Value-Added Friend?
- Build quality relationships. Relationships are a time commitment, but a worthwhile one. Go beyond the standard business interactions to truly deepen your relationships and get to know your marketing team. The stronger your friendship, the more you can expect from each other’s networking efforts.
- Do more than just show up. Seriously. You need to establish credibility and trust with the people at these events or meetings, so just showing up isn’t going to cut it. Refer to Number 1 above.
- Do not ask what they can do for you, but what you can do for them. This is perhaps the most powerful way to deepen and widening networks. Do not underestimate the power of helping other people.
So what are you doing to become a Value-Added Friend?
The number of referrals you should expect to receive is dependent on the type of business you’re in and the effort you exert to develop your network. Some professions receive more referrals than others.
For example, a florist is going to get many more than a real estate agent. However, the florist will have to sell a lot of flowers to make up for one real estate sale. Hence, the type of profession can somewhat determine a range in the quantity of referrals.
Having said that, however, the actual number that someone in a specific profession can get varies dramatically depending on their efforts to develop those referrals. This variation depends on how they “work” their networks. You remember the old computer adage “garbage in, garbage out”? It means that if you put bad information into the system, you’re going to get bad information out of the system. Well, one’s networking efforts are very much the same.
The results you can expect to get out of your efforts will be based on the quality of people you put into it. I recently conducted an Internet survey of business professionals in which I asked, “What percentage of your business comes from word-of-mouth or referrals?” Even I was surprised by the results. More than two-thirds of the respondents said they received 70 percent or more of their business from word-of-mouth. Only 14 percent said that referrals accounted for less than 30 percent of their business, and only 2 percent said they got no business from word-of-mouth!
Clearly, word-of-mouth and referrals are critical to the success of many businesses today. The question is, how do you increase it? First, consider professions that are part of your contact sphere. These are businesses that have a symbiotic relationship to yours. Contact spheres are the building blocks of your referral business because they help to build a solid base of repetitive referrals for you. Read “Developing a Networking Contact Sphere” for a more thorough explanation.
Next, you should diversify your networks. That is, you should participate in different kinds of networking groups so that you may have a diverse cross section of businesses and professionals as part of your center of influence. It’s important for you to understand that you must first build the foundation I speak of above before you can have high expectations for developing referrals. Based on research that I conducted at the University of Southern California a number of years ago, I found that the average participant in a strong contact network or a business development network (groups that meet weekly and allow only one person per profession, and whose primary purpose is to pass business referrals) generated, on average, 4.2 referrals per member, per month, or roughly 50 referrals per person, per year.
See Chapter 8 of my book The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret for additional information about the payoffs of networking. Please note that there are many intervening variables to this number. In my study, these variables included such things as length of membership, the profession they represented, the years of experience, the level of participation and more. One thing that didn’t seem to make a difference was gender. Both men and women generated substantially similar numbers of referrals throughout their participation.
To summarize, the number of referrals you can expect will vary depending on your profession and your efforts in the networking process. However, on average, I’ve found that many businesspeople can generate more than 50 referrals per year via their participation in a single networking organization. What makes this number truly significant is that most people would agree that a referred contact is much easier to close into business than other types of contacts. I believe this is the reason that so many businesses say they generate most of their business through referrals and word-of-mouth.
Working in a startup is completely different than an established company, and comes with its own unique set of challenges. Not only do employees or founders of a startup need to be conscious of these different challenges, there are also keys to business that become even more important when you work with a startup.
Not only do you need to attend networking events, you should host them. When you attend an event, you will stick in the minds of those who were also in attendance. Ideally, you’ll make positive impresses on everyone you connect with. When you host an event, however, not only will people who you connect with at the event remember you, so will everyone you invited but couldn’t make it. While their impression of you won’t be as developed as those who attended, invitees who couldn’t make will remember that they were invited, and it will be easier to hit the ground running with them when you finally do make that connection.
The follow up is vital. A huge part of networking is that follow up, and letting those that you connect with know that their time is appreciated and that you want to continue developing that relationship. When you are working on starting your business, that follow up becomes a tool of its own. Your number one priority needs to be growing your business, gaining notoriety, and establishing new connections in your industry to help support that growth. Letting people know that you’re thinking of them, whether they are new contacts or old, helps to develop those relationships and can keep you moving forward.
You need to lose some ego. As business people, we’re smart. Not only that, but we need to be confident to succeed in business. What that doesn’t give you the right to do is to allow your ego to control your actions. Whatever reason you’re involved in a startup, whether you were looking to break into a different industry, or you’re on the latest of many new businesses, your reputation cannot carry you here. With a new venture, you need to develop a new name for yourself, so you cannot rely on what you have accomplished before. It can help you get part of the way, but you must lose the ego if you want to go far.
Have you ever worked with or owned a startup? What advice would you give to those just starting out? Let us know in the comments below!s
During a radio interview, the host of the program asked me whether I consider referral marketing the “safest” form of advertising. Without the slightest hesitation, I confidently answered, “By all means, no!” He was visibly shocked by that answer. I went on to explain that I believe very strongly in the tremendous benefits that referral marketing can bring. However, there are unique risks associated with referral marketing that aren’t an issue with commercials or other forms of advertising.
When you give someone a referral, you’re putting your own reputation on the line. If your referral partner does a good job, it enhances your reputation. But if he does a poor job, your reputation will likely suffer. As I said, the payoffs of referral marketing are immense—when it’s done correctly. But referral marketing involves a really big risk: giving away a piece of your reputation every time you give a referral to someone. When you tell a valued customer that a friend of yours is going to take good care of her, you must have confidence in that friend.
But what happens if your friend lets your customer down? It comes back to haunt you. Your customer begins to lose faith in you, and because of that loss of faith, you just might lose that customer down the road. This is why it’s so important to develop strong relationships with your referral partners. Once those strong connections are forged, you can rest easy, knowing that when you tell someone a business associate or a networking partner is going to take good care of him or her, that’s what will happen.
I am a natural introvert. I know, I know. Shocking. It can be hard to believe that I might be a bit shy, considering how many dozens of times a year I get up in front of audiences and speak on a variety of topics. However, even an introvert is able to muster up some charisma and get in front of a crowd. To build up your own charisma, here are a couple tips you can try.
First things first, develop some interests. Read the news, listen to the radio, travel, watch speeches done by people you consider charismatic or by people who are leaders in your field. It is generally easy for people to talk about things that they find interesting, or things that they know about.
Another great way to build up some charisma is to go into your conversations with a positive attitude. Nobody wants to talk to a Debby Downer. Plus, if you act happier, you may even trick yourself into feeling happier.
Talking with hand gestures can actually help you feel more confident, as well, and come across in your charisma. The catch here is don’t overdo this, as it can quickly spiral out of control and cause you to seem a little scattered and off-putting.
Finally, your body language can do a lot when it comes to your charisma. Are your shoulders tense and bunched up toward your neck? Are your knees locked while you’re standing? Are you figditing? These are very obvious signs of being uncomfortable. Consciously work to control these, and you may just see your confidence and charisma skyrocket.
What steps do you take to build up confidence when speaking in front of strangers or large groups? Share your tips in the comments section below!
One of the biggest issues I see or hear when it comes to networking and word-of-mouth marketing strategies comes from the individual businessperson’s mindset. So often, people believe that in order to network successfully and set themselves up for the most referrals, they need to tell everyone who will listen (and some who won’t) everything that their business does. This misconception simply leads many to believe that by talking to everyone in the room, they’ll maximize their referrals.
This is not at all the case. What this actually does is bores your intended audience, and overwhelms them with more information than they could ever possibly remember.
The key instead is to come up with a unique selling proposition for your company, business or service, and use it when you network. Your unique selling proposition will be a brief summary of your business, the key word here being brief. You’ll want to share this description as concisely and as engaging as possible. Not only will your audience walk away understanding what you do, but if you have described your business in a compelling way, they’ll be more likely to remember you because you entertained them and kept them listening.
The biggest indicator of a good unique selling proposition is that it gets people to ask you more about your business, and keeps them genuinely interested in what you do. They should be short, sweet, and to the point, without being vague or misleading. Your goal is to open the door for a conversation, not leave any potential contacts confused.
What is your business’s unique selling proposition? How do you use it to get word-of-mouth referrals? Tell me in the comments below!