By knowing why you are networking and what you want to achieve, it is possible to plan accordingly and get great, measurable results. If you have any comments about Andy’s “S” list or any additional “S” words about networking you will want to add to the list. please leave me a comment below.
As a business networking strategist, Andy Lopata works with companies on how to use networking tools to develop their businesses. Networking is not just about sales. Whether for lead generation, breaking down silos internally, recruitment and retention of top staff or developing future leaders, networks and collaboration have a key role to play. Andy works with clients to help recognize that role and put the strategy and skills in place to leverage it.
People often ask me, “how can I get back in touch with people or stay in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”
If you want to connect or reconnect with others, do what is best for you, but go to where these people want to meet with you. So, here are seven strategies that will help you improve in this area — now. If you can’t do them all — do what works for you.
Don’t be a cave dweller. Please watch this video
1. Sort through your list.
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 use 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. 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 emailed. The key here — is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.
3. Use social media platforms.
Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn 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!” If you need help with this, contact Brian Bentzen, my social media coordinator.
4. From time to time, use snail mail.
Yes, OMG, send a letter or a card. It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.
5. 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.
6. Periodic phone calls.
I know, crazy idea, actually talk to people. Your smartphone has a green button — use it. If appropriate, set up regular calls. My wife and her sister have done that for many years.
7. 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. You have to start by making a commitment to improving in this area. If you haven’t been good at this in the past, start to focus on improving today. I would love to hear any more that you might have. Do you have a strategy to add? Or an example of how you use one of the seven? Share it in the comments.
Membership in a good networking group can be worth a considerable amount of money. Especially if you calculate the time you spend each month and the business value of your time. Do not waste your time. Make your time and efforts worthwhile. Don’t squander your opportunity by doing the wrong things in those meetings!
Success in a networking group comes when the rest of the group members trust you enough to open up their best referrals to you. Until they’ve seen your work, you have to earn that trust by demonstrating your professionalism to them. Since I founded BNI almost 25 years ago, I’ve seen how people have truly succeeded in networks–and I’ve seen how people have totally wasted their time in them.
In this classic video, I talk about productivity and setting priorities. This Ivanism, “If you want to scale a business, do six things a thousand times; not a thousand things six times“, is one of my quotes that I’m asked to talk about a lot and I thought I’d post this video again.
All too often, when facing a problem, the first thing we tend to do is focus on the negative situation. We continue to repeat our patterns, doing the same things that do not work, until we dwell in a feeling of negativity. Many people let their minds wander toward the negative, which then prompts them to focus on more problems instead of searching for ways to resolve the situation and grow from it. You must begin to start focusing on ways to actually resolve the situation by focusing on solutions. Do not just react, take the time to fully analyze the problem then make a list of possible solutions.
Identify the problem(s)
Identify what you did before in a similar problem
Brainstorm possible solutions.
Change what doesn’t work
Find and use resources
Decide which solution is best
Put that solution into play
Build on each successive step
Try to do more of what works
Use an alternative solution if not achieving the required results
Regardless of how bad your problem may be, the solution is there if you think long and hard enough. Not every solution will work for this problem. However, when we start to think of more ways to overcome our problems, we can grow from the situation at hand by being more prepared for the next problem we will face down the road. We can even avoid future problems because if we focus on problems, we will get more problems. If we focus on solutions, we will get more solutions. By being aware and reminding yourself of your list of solutions you just created, you can focus on solutions, not problems.
It is very important to be prepared to introduce yourself by breaking down your business into your LCD’s (Lowest Common Denominators). Each week, create a business educational curriculum to train your sales force to focus on just ONE aspect of your business.
For example, each week just focus on:
– A service
– A product
– A benefit
When you want to nail a presentation, start by explaining your lowest common denominators, or the most immediate, universal value of your business. Your LCD is your secret weapon.
Click on the graphic below, or click here, to see this video. Learn more about developing this training approach for your weekly presentations.
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.
Educating your networking group’s members about the type of referrals you want (and even the names of the individuals with whom you want to meet and develop relationships) is much more important to the success of your networking in a closed contact network than selling to the members. This demands a shift in how you see your networking partners and educating them about your business. They are not the clients! They are, in effect, your sales force! In order for any sales force to get out there and sell you effectively, they have to know who to sell you to and how to sell you.
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.
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
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!