Decisions Aren’t Always Easy

I’ve been a member of the Transformational Leadership Council for the last 12 years.  It is a group of innovative and out-of-the-box leaders that meet twice a year from all around the world, and last week we met in Napa Valley, California.  I use this time to expand my mind, brainstorm new content for my blog and articles and most of, all learn from the incredible teachers around me.

One of the topics that really got my attention was the idea of “decision fatigue.”   

In decision making and social psychology, decision fatigue refers to the exhaustion that sets in when someone is presented with the need to make one decision after another, back to back, over and over again.  This can play out in several ways–for example, it can be as simple as going to a grocery store and being confronted with one bad choice for food after another. By the time you are checking out, your willpower becomes weak and you buy that candy on the way out of the check stand (that’s why they have it there!)

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 It can also be related to a very long day of making many decisions. If you’re making tough calls all day long, the quality of the decisions will drastically diminish by days end.  Or it might play out over a very long period of time (weeks, months, or years) where you are confronted with one challenging decision after another.  Over an extended period of time, you feel exhausted and drained from having to make so many decisions about so many different issues that it is easy to experience “burnout” as a result.

In running a global organization with an incredible amount of competing demands, this last consideration really rang true for me.  I often felt that the serious nature of the ongoing decisions that needed to be made, could create a massive amount of long-term stress for me. One way I combated this stress was to schedule dedicated “mental health days” to reset my mindset and get in a better place.  

I spoke about this several years ago in my blog here. 

Decision fatigue is a real condition.  What, if anything, do you do to combat this feeling in your life?

Selecting Your Business Networks

This video is hosted by Entrepreneur.com and can be found on The Networking for Success YouTube Channel.

Networking is the perfect way to help take your business to the next level. But putting your eggs in one basket and depending on one networking group to satisfy all your needs won’t work–and that’s coming from the Founder of the world’s largest referral network.

We all select different people in our lives that satisfy various needs that contribute to our well being; our parents provide comfort and guidance, our close friends provide support and cheer, our business relationships provide trust and honesty. While these satisfactions may overlap from group to group, it’s important to have more than one person you’re leaning on for all your emotional needs.

It’s the same with your networking groups! While you may find cheer and honesty in more than one group, it’s important to spread your interests to gain a varied support system.

When selecting your business networks, you need to understand which types are available so you can make an informed decision. There are five types:

1. Casual Contact: A gathering on people from many different professions, usually in a mixer environment

2. Strong Contact: Usually only allows one person per profession, get together very regularly

3. Community Service Clubs: An opportunity to rub elbows with other very successful people

4. Professional Associations: Trade organizations that are very specific in purpose

5. Online: Social Media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where networking is constant

To better understand which group fits you best, watch the video below.

 

What is a Lifestyle Business?

LBSSummit_IvanMisner_FBWhat defines happiness and success? Everyone has a different answer, but I can tell you one thing that most would agree on: money does not solely define success and certainly cannot buy happiness.

I recently had the opportunity to speak at the LifeStyle Business Summit, hosted by Michelle Villalobos. In telling her own story, Michelle said she was climbing the ladder like we all do, but when she examined her life, she in fact wasn’t happy–and so she left to find her own path to fulfillment. She started her own business, making upwards of $300,000 a year–which society tells us should make a us happy–but that as time went on, she had actually become what she disliked most in people and became the boss she herself had always feared. She never gave herself any breaks or time off, and sacrificed her own happiness and health for a corporate lifestyle.

Two years went by and then Michelle realized she had to make a change in order to find true happiness. She wanted to run a business that revolved around her life and contributed something positive to the world–and she did, by changing her perspective, her business model and her definition of success. Michelle calls her new business model a “lifestyle business,” a term which I found fascinating as it resonated with some many of the concepts I talk and write a.

In a lifestyle business model, you have to determine which things are satisfiers and which are dissatisfiers. Keep in mind that while money can be a quick satisfier, it often doesn’t lead to long-term happiness. Long-term satisfiers can be things like opportunity, recognition and working in your flame (finding you passion.) I’m a real believer in following your passion and finding things that are new and innovative within that passion to keep the flame burning. Dissatisfiers include things like working in your wax (not doing what makes you happy), climbing the ladder and yes–even money.

A great example of this theory is a school teacher. A man or woman doesn’t become a teacher to make money, but to make a significant change in the world around them. I’ve known Wall Street executives who made millions, but admitted that their life was hollow.

I strongly encourage you to join me at the virtual Lifestyle Business Summit on August 11. Register here to not only hear me, but several other top business and lifestyle experts talk about finding what truly makes you happy in your professional life.

 

 

 

Networking for Millennials, by a Millennial

This article is from guest blogger and BNI Executive Director Dana Gallagher.

For the first time in American history, three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – all with different work ethics, values, beliefs and experiences are working side-by side.  One generation stands out from the rest because they have become the largest generation in the workforce.  Who are they?  You guessed it… Millennials!

Let’s take a step back. What is a Millennial?  This term refers to the generations born between 1982 and the early 2000’s.  Born in the year 1990, I am proud to say that I, myself am a Millennial.  In this article I will be focusing on how my generation does business, communicates, and networks.

Face-to-face networking will never go out of style.  This leads me to a common misconception; that millennials would rather network with one another via social media than face-to-face. All of my experiences, and everyone I know, have shown this to be the exact opposite. If we had a choice of either type of networking the answer would be face-to-face every time, hands down.  Human interaction is one of the most powerful ways to network and connect with others.

With that being said, getting out to networking events every night and seeing people isn’t always an option.  Lucky for us, we have other means of building relationships when we are unable to meet face-to-face.  So what are some of the other ways we network and how does our different generational attributes effect the way we communicate?

Communication Style:

On a daily basis, I communicate with people approximately ten different ways.  The most common ways are text messaging, group text messages, phone calls, e-mail, Facebook, Facebook group pages, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, FaceTime, and LinkedIn.  Many other millennials use apps, like GroupMe, Voxer, Twitter, Skype, and Kik as a means to meet and connect with other people.  Wait a minute, why do Millennials choose to use all these ways to communicate?  Simply put, it’s quick, easy, and switching tasks helps hold our interest.

While referring to our communication style, informality is key.  For the most part we find it completely acceptable to reach out to other business associates, bosses, and acquaintances via text, LinkedIn, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, or whatever else.  As long as we get in touch with the person we need, why does it matter how we do so?
Building Relationships:

After meeting someone at a networking event, wedding, back yard barbecue, or any other get-together, we will most likely friend them on Facebook, add them on SnapChat, follow them on Instagram, connect with them on LinkedIn, or all of the above.  By having so many resources to connect with each other we are able to build relationships faster (from the mass amounts of information online) and keep our relationships longer because of the ease of staying in touch.  I may not see you for two years but I know you have become engaged, bought a house, went on vacation, and adopted a new dog, all because you friended me on Facebook.  In short, it’s easier for millennials to establish long term relationships.

Team Oriented:

We are a generation that prefers to socialize and work in groups because we grew up in an environment that promoted constant team work.  On a daily basis, our school teachers would have us work in groups to accomplish assignments.  When everyone played their part, we learned that by working together we can achieve more, create a better result, and have fun!  Our grade school teaching style fostered the belief that collaboration is the most effective way to get a job done.

One of the reasons that BNI is so great for millennials is that it accomplishes two things at once.  We are able to socialize in a group setting while also building a network of people who can help accomplish one another’s goals by working together as a team.  There is no better support system for a young entrepreneur or business professional than a group of entrepreneurs, professionals, and field experts that can share their best practices and learn together.

Business Focus:

Our generation is pursuing careers for more than a paycheck and rejecting the old school mentality of the more you work, the more you’re worth.  We believe that success is based on efficiency and results, rather than long hours and harder work.  By completing our work quicker, we are able to get more accomplished throughout the day and fulfill our desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The focus on a healthy work-life balance has caused a change in the beginning stages of networking.  Rather than the typical conversation starter, “Tell me about your business,” you are more likely to hear millennials start a conversation off with, “What do you like to do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Why is that? Well, we’re pickier about the people with whom we do business. Millennials prefer to work alongside people whose values and interests align with their own.

Of course, it goes almost without saying that every person is an individual, so keep in mind that some of the characteristics we’ve discussed may not be applicable to every millennial. However, the information in this article refers to the millennial generation as a whole and the common trends that will help you to network and better communicate with them in professional circles.

 

 

If I’m Not Approachable…am I Alienating?

Truth? You might be.

In the first part of this two-part blog, I talked about how to know if you are approachable when it comes to mingling at networking events–because you may not know that you are the one getting in your own way when it comes to meeting new people and kindling business relationships.

If you read the first blog (found here: http://ivanmisner.com/successful-networking-kind/ ) and discovered that the behaviors listed weren’t those you exhibited when networking, you might begin to wonder if you are, in fact, alienating.

Here are some examples of alienating behaviors:

1. A Negative Attitude: Rambling about your rough personal or professional life is off-putting for your future referral partner. Leave your problems at the door of any networking event you attend. If you’re down, don’t bring others down with you, because they might avoid you at future events and others might follow their lead.

2. Closed-Off Body Language: If you have a scowl on your face and your arms crossed over your chest, others will most likely move on to someone more welcoming. Your stance means a lot in your approachability and allows others to walk past you or join in the conversation easily.

3. Incongruence: Inconsistency in what you say and what you do makes a huge difference in people’s perception of whether or not you are approachable or alienating. If you’re reiterating how much you value kindness in others, but speak poorly to a server or hostess at the event, your potential referral partner is going to dismiss you as insincere.

But how can you really tell if you are approachable or alienating? Bring a trusted friend or referral partner with you to your next networking event and observe each other’s body language, tone of voice and words. Afterwards, exchange constructive feedback with the intent of helping each other become better referral partners.

 

Premature Solicitor

Why Successful Networking is All About You…Kind Of

This is the first in a two part series.

Do you find yourself a networking event, standing alone awkwardly and wondering why you can’t hold a conversation? Do you wonder why others don’t seem interested in talking to you, while those around you are conversing easily and often? You wore the right thing, you have a drink in your hand and clearly you have no one to talk to–so why aren’t people lined around the corner to speak to you?

I hate to be the one to say it, but it has to be said–it might be you. Not the inherent you, not your personality or your reputation; but your body language and behavior can turn a stranger into a referral partner or into just another body in the room. If you want to make this networking thing happen, you have to know–

Are you approachable or alienating?

Here’s how to know if you are APPROACHABLE:

1. Positive Attitude: You smile, laugh and look like you are a pleasant person to talk to. Although this seems ridiculously simple, you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize their frowning or looking bored in conversation. Go look in the mirror and watch how your face changes when you frown and when you smile–you’ll see what a difference it makes!

2. Open Body Language: In the book Networking Like a Pro, I talk about positioning when a person is conversing with others. Instead of talking to someone in a one-on-one conversation, standing closely together with your shoulders facing squarely at one another, make sure your stance allows the room for someone else to approach and join in.

3.Congruence: Conduct yourself as if every person you meet is the host of the event, going above and beyond to make them feel good. Don’t over compliment or lay on the schmooze, but do make a point to encourage others in conversation and seem genuinely interested in them and their business.

 

Next week: Are you alienating?

 

 

 

Resist Coin-Operated Networking

When networking, do you only talk to those who can give you the most in return? Do you only give your business card to someone who you will bring you a ton of referrals? Do you only give referrals if you know you’ll get them in return?

If this sounds like you, you are doing it all wrong. Networking is not a vending machine. You don’t put in coins into the machine and get a candy bar every time–sometimes, you have to wait for your candy.

This mentality is called “transactional networking,” which is going to get you nowhere quickly in the world of referral networking. The “I will give you this, now you have to give me that,” point of view is only going to leave you sorely disappointed.

Instead, the proper mindset is, “Let me help you. I’ve got some ideas. I have a referral for you.” Over time, they’ll give it back you when the opportunity arises. This mentality is called “relational.” Keeping score or holding a referral back because you haven’t received one in return won’t always work, but thinking about giving before getting and making it the foundation of your business reputation, will.

Let’s take a closer look. If you’re keeping score and have given two referrals, but only received one in return, you might be a little disappointed. But consider the value of those referrals. You can’t simply go by the numbers. Two referrals to a florist are vastly different than two referrals to a real estate agent. By the same token, we don’t think it’s realistic to expect $1,000 worth of referrals from someone just because you passed them referrals of that amount.

By applying the Givers Gain philosophy, you will make your referral relationships relational rather than transactional and find success in this relationship. Let’s say there’s somebody you don’t know well, but you want to know that person better and build a referral relationship. You think this person may be able to help you and you know you can help them. You don’t start a referral relationship by asking them to sign a contract that for every referral you give him, he has to give you one in return! The way to start the process is to give.

I understand the hesitation to give referrals to someone you don’t know well–but giving doesn’t have to start with a referral. It can start with a conversation. If you’re having a conversation with a possible referral partner and they express a problem they may be having, you might say, “You know, I just read a great article on that. I’ll email it to you.” You hand them your business card with your email address on it, they do the same and –voila! A connection is made through giving.

Remember, networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships.

GAINing a Trusted Relationship

I’ve been thinking about the concept of trust lately. Given all that’s happening around the world, with the constant influx of distressing news, it’s hard to know what information to trust, or who to trust, or even where to place our trust.

In networking, trust is a major factoring in giving and receiving referrals– remember, it’s not what you know or who you know, but how well you know each other that counts. In this fast-paced, digital, 140-character age we live in, having an actual conversation with an actual person can feel daunting (and sometimes, we notice that we’ve forgotten how to do it.)

On that note, I wanted to take a moment a reflect on a fundamental of networking, and a fantastic way to start to earn trust–the GAINS exchange. When you have a 1-2-1 with someone you’ve networked with, it’s important to begin to build the foundation of the relationship in an effective, time efficient way. GAINS is the perfect way to do that.

The ice breaker goes as follows: Goals, Achievements, Interests, Networks and Skills. Whether these are professional or personal answers (or possibly both) it’ll help the conversation flow easily and begin to build that foundation of trust.

The first time you introduce the ice breaker, it can feel a little awkward; but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with it. Begin practicing the exchange with someone you’re comfortable with–you might be surprised at their answers!

Take some time to write down your answers, and really reflect on it. You might even learn something new about yourself.

 

Do You Have Networking Fatigue?

I’m here to let you in on a secret that may sound totally counterintuitive: you can actually network TOO much.

What??? The founder of the world’s largest networking group says you can network TOO MUCH?

Yep. That’s right.

Case in point: I was traveling through the Mid West a few years ago when I heard whisperings of a woman who was referred to as the Queen of Networking. Those who had seen or of heard of her, said she was at every single event and managed to talk to every person in the room.

It happened that she and I ended up at the same event one night (surprise, surprise) and she pulled me aside to talk. She seemed anxious and upset, and I wondered what could have the Queen so distraught.

“Ivan,” she said, “I know everyone keeps calling me the Queen of Networking, but I’m not seeing any increase in business whatsoever!”

Shocked, I asked her just how many events she attending each week. She replied, “Between eight and ten a week.”

Then I was really shocked! That was her problem–she was spreading herself too thin. Remember the VCP process-Visibility leads to Credibility leads to Profitability? She was focused so heavily on visibility, that she lost sight of the credibility. I told her to scale back her efforts and work on deepening a few crucial relationships at a time, to establish her credibility in the community.

“If your network is a mile long but only an inch deep, you’ll never have a powerful network,” I told her. “Do more 1-2-1’s and focus on the GAINS exchange, and you’ll begin to see some improvement.”

The moral of the story? Don’t try and be the Queen (or King!) of networking; instead, work on being the Ruler of Relationships. You’ll see not only an improvement in referrals, but you’ll also establish deeper credibility within your network.

State Side Once Again

Passion. Energy. Gratitude.

Those tokens are what I remember from those who attended the BNI Conferences of Italy and England.

For those of you who don’t know, my wife Beth and I were in Europe the past three weeks traveling to Italy and England for their BNI National Conferences. This was our first trip to Italy, and  I hadn’t visited England in several years, so this was a big deal for all those involved.

One of the reasons I enjoy traveling to the international conferences, is because I love meeting the people who drive BNI: our Members. Business owners who are working hard to make it in the world, who are dedicated to our core values, who are passionate about learning ways to make their business better. Seeing their energy and their commitment is what drives me to keep producing content and find new ways to give real people real advice on networking and small business performance.

In Italy, what impressed me the most was the hospitality of the people. The warmth and kindness was palpable and I had no problem opening up–even with the language barrier. Like I always say, networking is the same in any language, and culture can’t stop people from interacting from one another. (In fact, I challenge you to network with someone who practices a different culture than you do– you might be surprised at just how similar you are.) Everyone wants to succeed, everyone wants to use the tools given to them in the right way–which is something I felt deeply from Italian Members. At every turn there was someone shaking my hand, thanking me for helping them push through some of the hardest times of their professional lives–for that, I am grateful.

Our Members in England were unique in their energy, to be sure. The excitement and enthusiasm was something I wish I could bottle and take whenever I need a boost! Once I took the stage on Friday at their conference’s Members Day, the Tweets began multiplying like fireworks–hundreds within a mere few hours. It wasn’t ignorance on fire, but passion, which is even better. They took every word of my speech to heart, hung on every word, which made me feel completely humbled and appreciative. I look over those tweets and think, “Wow! They liked me–they really liked me!”

Take a look through this photo album and see if you can feel what I felt during that time. It was truly something I will never forget.

 

 

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Ivan on fire

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Are you Flame or Wax Happy?

This is the second video in the “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com. I expand on common phrases I’ve used over the years and explain how they can apply to your business and referral networking style.

Are you flame or wax happy?

That sounds like a bizarre question–but it’s not.

When you’re working in your wax and when you’re working in your flame are two very different things, and can affect you in different ways. If you’re flame happy, you’re excited, motivated and ready to pursue your ambitions. But what happens when are wax happy, and simply complacent with working on things that you aren’t passionate about?

The video below talks about this idea and ways you can make sure you’re always flame happy.

 

 

 

Ignorance Fire

Is Ignorance on Fire Ever a Good Thing?

Ignorance on fire

The following video is part of my new “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com, where I expand on catch phrases I have used frequently over the years.

 

I know, it’s a strange concept: “Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.”

Most people read that statement and think, someone who’s excited but ignorant can do more harm than good.

I’m here to tell you that the opposite of your intuition is true. That’s right–and you’ll see why below.

 

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