Top Characteristics

The Top Characteristics of a Great Networker (pt 2)

Recently, I took the opportunity to gather almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world.   I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see.  From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed them here. Each one of the characteristics below ties into the notion of “farming” not “hunting.”  It’s about building mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed in creating a powerful, personal network.

  1. Sincere/Authentic. You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it!  Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn.  One respondent stated that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you.  We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity.  Faking it isn’t sustainable.
  1. Follows Up. If you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person.  One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”
  1. Trustworthy. One respondent said best when she said: “it doesn’t matter how successful the person is, if I don’t trust them, I don’t work with them. When you refer someone you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well.
  1. Approachable. One respondent said that people “will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. Effective networking starts with approachability – everything else listed above follows from this.

As a young man, I studied under Warren Bennis, who was at the time, the world’s leading expert on leadership.  He taught me that understanding the “characteristics” of a great leader is important.  However, what is even more important, is understanding how to apply those characteristics.  He told me; “know what you are good at and work to enhance those skills.  Know what you’re not good at and surround yourself with people who can help you improve those skills”. 

As with leadership, I believe that networking skills are very important.  What’s even more important, however, is working to improve them and learning how to use them effectively.  That’s what really counts.

What are the Top Three Characteristics?

Check out my blog from January for the top three characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker.

The Top Characteristics of a Great Networker (pt 1)

I Want to Know What You Think Makes a Great Networker? ( Survey )

I’ve been writing about networking for more than 30 years! After all these years, I still find that there are many misnomers about what business networking should, or shouldn’t be about. Many people think that business networking is basically about direct selling. Others think that is about relationship building. What do you think makes a great networker?

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Networking: Men, Women, and Diversity

Charlie&Ivan-MvWIN

 

In this video (click on the graphic above to access the video), I speak with Charlie Lawson, networking expert and National Director of BNI® UK & Ireland, to unfold the differences between men and women in networking.  While men tend to be more transactional in the way they network, women are more relational and understanding these differences can really be an advantage when it comes to achieving success from your networking efforts.

During a survey of 12,000 people, it was found that those who are more relational gain more business and are overall more proficient networkers.  However, just because women are more likely to generate new business through referrals, this doesn’t mean that only they should have a place in networking groups.  In order to have the most successful networking group possible, there needs to be a great amount of diversity.  It’s ideal to have a blend of different people because that diversity is an important aspect of successful networking.

The more diverse a group is, the more connected it becomes.  When networking groups become more connected, deeper relationships are formed, ultimately leading to more referrals and greater success.

Do you or your networking group have any good tactics for seeking out a diverse array of professionals with whom to network?   If so, please share them in the comment forum below.  If not, make it your goal this week to come up with some ways to do so–you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of untapped potential for new referrals to gain! 

‘Why People Resist Networking’ Series: Part III–Impatience Resulting in Early Failure


In this third installment of the “Why People Resist Networking” Video Series, I discuss another popular theme surrounding why people tend to resist networking – impatience.  If new networkers don’t see immediate payoff from their efforts, they become impatient, inevitably resulting in failure early on in the networking process.

Quite often, people simply don’t understand the value of taking time to build fruitful relationships and, like it or not, fruitful relationships are the cornerstone of effective networking.

In this short video, I show a Power Point slide which offers eye-opening proof of the payoff that comes from being patient and consistently putting in the necessary time each week to diligently and strategically build networking relationships. 

I highly encourage you to watch the video to find out why you owe it to yourself (not to mention the business you’ve put so much hard work into) to adopt a systematic and patient approach to networking.  Remember, when you approach networking like a long distance marathon runner, you will reap sweet rewards; if you approach it like a sprinter, simply trying to reach the end as quickly as possible, chances are you’ll end up breaking your ankle (so to speak) and you will have failed before you ever have a chance to even reach the finish line–needless to say, there’s no prize in that.

After watching the video, I’d love for you to leave your feedback, thoughts, and/or comments in the comment forum below. I would particularly like to hear your networking success stories (e.g., connections you never thought you’d be able to make yet achieved through your diligent networking efforts, business growth statistics attesting to the positive impact your networking efforts have made on your business, etc.). Thanks!

How Much do You Trust Advertising?

Nielsen recently did a survey regarding people’s “trust” in various forms of advertising (see the graph below).

Remarkably, the two top categories of trust involved word of mouth!  All other forms of advertising were substantially lower than the top two (word-of-mouth approaches).  Furthermore, 82% of all forms of advertising (other than word of mouth) showed that more than half of all people didn’t trust that form of advertising much at all!

The media often asks me why networking is so important.  I think the graph below clearly demonstrates why networking is so important for business growth and success.  It’s important to note that I believe in advertising; I also believe that referrals and networking are a form of advertising and I’ve been saying for many years that business networking (i.e., referral marketing) is the most cost effective form of advertising.

This independent study clearly confirms the power of word-of-mouth advertising.  Weigh in here – what are your thoughts on the matter?

Networking ROI

I recently co-authored an article about the return on investment (ROI) of membership in BNI (the organization I founded back in 1985).  My readers here may find some of the results interesting:

The average amount of business gained from referrals in the last 12 months was $37,055.  When asked about further orders they had received as the multiplier effect of participation, members were able to think of, on average, an additional $17,668 per year of membership.

Combining closed business in the last 12 months with the average value of 2nd and 3rd generation referrals in a year showed the true value of a seat as $54,720 per year.  On average, members who were involved in the group for 7 years generated $383,038 since they joined, thereby underpinning the lifetime value of participation.

An associate of mine is conducting an independent study regarding ROI for any networking organization.   He will share some of the results with me and I will publish them here on my blog.  Please take a few moments to take the short survey (it will only take 3 or 4 minutes).

*** Take the SURVEY HERE ***

After you take the survey, post a message here with any questions that YOU would like to see in a future survey that I’m doing or recommending (like this one).

Want to Achieve Networking Success with the Opposite Sex?–Advice for Women & Men

Last week I posted a summary of the conclusions my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I came to after surveying over 12,000 people and conducting months of research.  I promised that this week I would post advice for both women and men in achieving networking success with the opposite sex so below I’ve outlined some key tips Frank De Raffele, Hazel Walker, and I put together.

We Say . . .

We’re all trying to get to the same place.  It will be much more profitable for all of us if we can help each other along the way.  Here are a few things to guide your success in networking with the complementary gender:

For the Ladies

  • Don’t get stuck in the credibility phase of the VCP Process®.  Ask for what you want.
  • When asking for help, communicate clearly exactly what it is that you want.
  • Make time for networking.
  • When speaking to men, try to impress them and share your accomplishments.
  • When spoken to inappropriately, speak up about it immediately.
  • Dress for business at business events.
  • Put systems in place to track your business.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Diversify your networks.
  • Remember that networking is ultimately about getting business, so ask for both business and referrals.
  • Convey an image to others that you are a serious businessperson, in all that you do.
  • Get educated about referral systems.
  • Don’t lump all men into the same group.

For the Guys

  • Slow down and build the relationship.
  • Work through the VCP Process® in the proper order of its phases.  Don’t race through the credibility phase.
  • Make and maintain eye contact.
  • Listen and ask relational questions.
  • Don’t assume that women don’t take their business seriously.
  • Don’t hit on women at networking events.
  • Edit what you are about to say, using filters to sift out what is not business appropriate.
  • Stay in contact with and follow up on leads, referrals, and acquaintances made.
  • Stay informed about the best, most current, and cutting-edge networking practices.
  • Develop and use systems for your networking activities.
  • Make time for networking.
  • Speak to relate, not just to impress.
  • Remember that women are at networking events for business gain, just as you are.

The difference between the genders when it comes to networking is a great advantage, not a disadvantage.  By following the tips we have outlined above, you should be able to develop more productive relationships with members of both sexes.  Also, be sure to visit www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com if you would like to follow the latest developments on the subject of business networking and the genders.

Does Business Networking Have a Place in Formal Education?

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., Roger Green asks me about my view on the idea that high cost education doesn’t necessarily prepare students for the real world.

In answering him, I talk about my feelings on where business networking fits into the world of formal education and I share some statistics about the true effectiveness of networking which, to me, are mind boggling; I also tell a personal story about having lunch with the Dean of Business at a prominent university and how his words to me speak volumes about the current position business networking holds in the world of higher learning.

What are your personal feelings on where business networking currently fits into, or currently should fit into, the world of formal education?  Did you study business at the university level?  If so, what was your experience?–Did you receive any education about networking while you were working on your degree(s)?  Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section.

Survey Says: Summarized Conclusions about Business Networking & Gender

What have my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I concluded after 12,000 individual surveys, almost 1,000 comments and stories, numerous interviews, months of research, and years of experience?  Below is a recap of the facts we uncovered.

Study Findings, Summarized

  • Men and women were closer together than we expected in most areas.
  • However, the perception of the difference is very dramatic.  Remember: The exception becomes the perception.
  • Women feel that networking has played a slightly larger role in their success than men.
  • Women use a much wider variety of techniques to learn their networking skills than men do.
  • Men are more likely to focus on business first than women are.  Women are a little more likely to focus on building the relationship first–then the business.
  • The time of day for networking was not a big issue for either gender.  This was a surprise to us.
  • Family obligations were more of a problem for women.
  • Women definitely did not feel as safe as men in attending evening events.
  • Men preferred either a structured or unstructured networking event.  Women felt okay with either.
  • Both men and women felt that other people were more uncomfortable networking than they felt about it themselves.
  • Men felt stronger about transactional aspects of networking.  Women felt stronger about relational aspects of networking.
  • Men spent a little more time networking.
  • Women received a higher percentage of their business from networking than men.
  • The more time either men or women spent in their networking efforts, the higher the percentage of business they generated.
  • The more often people used systems to track their business from networking, the more likely they were to feel that networking played a role in their success.

Men and women are not so different in the success they desire in business and networking.  However, the process, the mindset, and the way of making the results happen are very different.  The reason is that we have different ways of viewing the world.  Some of this comes from nature and some from nurture.  What it means is that if we want to be more effective, we must learn how to respect, appreciate, and embrace one another’s differences.  We must understand that we can work more effectively together as a team in business and in our networks.  We just need to learn to be adaptable, empathetic, sensitive, and understanding that THEY are not you.

You can and will beat the odds.  The exception doesn’t have to become the perception.  It can be you! 

Come back next week for some advice from the whole team of Business Networking and Sex co-authors–these tips will help you achieve your highest potential when it comes to networking and guide you into your brightest future in referral marketing.

People Hate to Network… Not!

I was recently contacted by a reporter from a major U.S. national newspaper who said:

“I was wondering if you might be able to point me in the direction of some research that says that many people don’t like networking?  I see that concept cited all over the web, but I can’t find anyone who has actually conducted a survey or done some sort of study to back it up.”

I sent her the chart in this blog, which comes from the research I did for the book: Business Networking And Sex, (not what you think).   She was very surprised by these results.  She said that she had always heard that people didn’t like to network and so she assumed it was true. 

As you can see in the graph, over 57% of the respondents were comfortable or loved to network!  Only 37% or just somewhat comfortable networking and less than 6% were uncomfortable or did not like networking.  This is substantially different than the impression the news reporter had about the process.

I think there may be two reasons why she may have believed that most people don’t like to network. 

  1. The “proximity effect.”  People tend to take on some of the beliefs of people that they hang out with.  Newspaper writers ‘tend’ to be around other writers and editors.  They generally do not hang out with sales people and entrepreneurs.  However, it is the small business person that is out there selling and networking.  The writer is writing about people she doesn’t tend to be with all the time and may get a point of view about networking from other people – not entrepreneurs.
  2. The “I’m better at this than others effect.” One of the things we learned in doing the research for this book was that most people think “they” are better at networking than “other” people.  This tends to create a belief that other people may not like it because they surely are awkward and poor at it (more to come on a future blog about this topic).

The bottom line is that the majority of business people do like to network or are somewhat comfortable networking.  It is a powerful way to generate business and it sure is a whole lot more interesting that cold-calling!

How about you – do you hate to network, love to network, or something in between???

Business Networking & Sex: Survey Says . . . Time Spent Networking

In this short video, I share a portion of the results from the survey of 12,000 businesspeople on which my most recent book, Business Networking and Sex: Not What You Think, is based.   The results I discuss here indicate that there is a very powerful, direct linear correlation between the time spent networking and business success.

You’ll also hear some colorful comments in the video relating to the book and my co-authors (e.g., “Frank, you’re a bad, bad boy . . .” ;-)).

After watching the video, please leave a comment explaining whether you feel the indication of the statistics is true or lacking based on your personal networking experience.

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