The 5 Levels of Relationships to Understand for Networking Success

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with my good friend Andy Hart, a networking expert from Ireland, at the BNI International Conference in Long Beach, CA.  Andy is a true master of networking and in this short video, he explains the Levels of a Relationship and how having a huge network of contacts doesn’t necessarily mean you have a huge pool of contacts from which you’ll actually gain business.

Andy discusses five main relationship levels in regard to business networking and the possibility of generating referrals from those in your network of contacts; more importantly,  he outlines a simple exercise which will enable you to pinpoint which relationship level you are  currently maintaining with each of your contacts.

After carrying out the exercise Andy suggests, please come back and share your findings–were they what you expected, or were  you surprised by what you discovered?

If You Don’t Get This, You Won’t Succeed at Networking

In this brief video, Roger Green and I talk about the two styles of engagement (Relational vs.Transactional) and The VCP Process®.

Throughout the course of my research, I’ve found that, on the average, when it comes to networking, men’s behavior typically goes in one specific direction, and women’s behavior goes in a very different direction. It’s very important to understand this but what’s even more imperative to understand is the VCP Process®–if you don’t get VCP, nothing else you do will work at networking; you have to understand VCP.

Remember: Generating business through networking is a referral process; not a sales process.  After watching the video, please share your thoughts in the comments section regarding the VCP Process®–which part(s) of the process do you currently excel at and which part(s) do you feel you might need to work on?  Do you believe your are better at certain parts of the process due to being either transactional or relational, or because of your gender?

The Fine Line Between Comedy and Competency

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Nine months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 9 of the series.  Enjoy.

THE FINE LINE BETWEEN COMEDY AND COMPETENCY

(Part 9 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.  For Parts 6 and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us.

Last month in Part 8, we suggested some behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive.  And, as a result, we got a couple phone calls complimenting us about how last month’s blog post clearly outlined what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a weekly and monthly basis – and we were asked to provide more.

Exactly three weeks ago, I posted in this very blog about The Ten Commandments of Networking a Mixer.  I’ve been talking about these specific 10 guidelines for years that I recommend people follow when attending Chamber functions, Association meetings, and various business mixers.  I’ve been interviewed on radio and television before and many times I bring up these same 10 guidelines.  And I’m so committed that they should be a part of a successful networker’s toolbox that these same 10 guidelines are taught in-depth in Referral Institute regions all across the globe.

After reading my recent blog post about the Ten Commandments of Networking a Mixer, TR came to me with a smirk on his face and began some mischievous questioning.  He started by mentioning Harvey Mackay’s “take” on the same exact topic.  Now, Harvey is a friend of mine and I’ve even invited him to speak to my networking organization before (of course the audience absolutely loved him).  So, I proceeded to ask TR where he was going with his questioning.

TR replied, “In Chapter 71 [Yes, Harvey’s books have that many chapters] of “Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty”, Harvey writes about The Ten Commandments of Networking as wellAnd, according to him, Commandment #2 is:

~I will NOT confuse visibility with credibility – mine or anyone else’s~

Ivan, I believe that’s a pretty powerful guideline that successful networkers should follow.  Why is this Commandment not included in YOUR list?

After a very long pause, I proceeded to explain that it’s okay for different people to have different viewpoints.  And this led into a very productive conversation about how one person’s viewpoint isn’t correct, and one person’s viewpoint isn’t incorrect – they are just different.  And, this leads us to the relevance of the above story into today’s blog post in which we fulfill our blog readers’ request to provide MORE DETAILS on exactly what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a monthly basis.

In an effort to move their network (or audience) through the VCP Process to Networking®, many business professionals who are members of Strong Contact Networks like BNI meet on a weekly basis.  And, each week they are given an opportunity to say something about themselves or their business – usually about 1 to 2 minutes.  Every week, these professionals each make a choice on which topic, messaging, and subsequent behavior to display or exhibit while they are addressing the entire group or meeting.

Today, we’d like to bring attention to 2 options one could choose from:

  1. Displaying behaviors to be perceived as LIKEABLE
  2. Displaying behaviors to be perceived as COMPETENT

Which is right?  Which is wrong?  Which is right for you?  Which is wrong for you?

These are all good questions to ask and this leads us back to what my response to TR was earlier which is:  One person’s viewpoint isn’t correct, and one person’s viewpoint isn’t incorrect – they are just different.  And, let me add – choose wisely.

Therefore, someone who week in and week out chooses to use their 1 to 2 minutes to display behaviors to encourage people to like them is most certainly entitled to do so.  Some examples of these types of behaviors are:

  • Delivering jokes
  • Performing attention-getting skits
  • Rhyming
  • Reciting a poem

However, if you choose these behaviors we kindly ask that you not lose sight of the goal which is to move your network through the VCP Process® from Visibility to Credibility all the way to Profitability.  And, if people only know you for your jokes, they may surely like you and remember you (i.e. Visibility) but you may risk not ever providing them with enough information that proves you are good at what you do – which ultimately increases your chance of getting referrals from them (i.e. Credibility).

On the other hand, someone who chooses to use their 1 to 2 minutes to display behaviors to impress people and prove they are good at what they do is certainly entitled to do so.  Some examples of these types of behaviors are:

  • Sharing client testimonials
  • Announcing achievements
  • Explaining why they are “better” than their competition

However, if your network only hears sound bites of your successes and don’t ever really get the chance to truly know you as a person (i.e. the likability factor), you may risk alienating yourself as someone only focused on work.  Or worse yet, they may consider you boring.

Therein explains the fine line between comedy and competency that today’s business networkers face.  And, some may even consider it a challenge.   When moving your network through the VCP Process®, it’s recommended that you first get someone to LIKE you through various Visibility behaviors.  But, it cannot stop there.  It’s encouraged that you then commit to displaying various Credibility-building behaviors so that they believe you have the COMPETENCY in your profession to handle their referrals.  Then, you will you increase your chances of consistently pulling your network all the way to Profitability and receiving a steady stream of referrals.

In closing, today’s focus has been simply to expand your thought process on exactly what options you have available to you when it comes to which behaviors you can choose to display to your network on a weekly or monthly basis.  Displaying behaviors that allow you to be perceived as both LIKEABLE and COMPETENT is our recommended solution.  Combine them together and interchange them back and forth when relevant to make sure your network truly likes you and also believes you will take great care of their referrals.  One without the other or used too infrequently may not deliver you the results you expect from your networking efforts.

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 10 called “Authenticity is the ‘New’ Audacity.”

Are You Approachable or Alienating?

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute.

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Eight months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 8 of the series.  Enjoy.

ARE YOU APPROACHABLE OR ALIENATING?

(Part 8 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

 

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.  For Parts 6 and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us

Today, we’d like to share with you a handful of behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, these behaviors are based upon the following question

Are You Approachable or Alienating

Success.  It’s not just a word.  It’s also a very popular magazine as many of you may be familiar with.  And, the Editor of SUCCESS Magazine, Darren Hardy, recently released a book called, “The Compound Effect.

While it’s an absolutely wonderful book that we recommend you pick up and read in detail, the underlying principle Darren speaks about is that “the little things add up” – just as in networking.  Don’t assume that because some of the tactics and tasks we speak about in this blog series are simple and easy to understand that you shouldn’t make the time to practice them.  Don’t discount the fact that we recommend you practice some of these simple tasks on a weekly basis.  After all, repetition produces RESULTS – especially in networking

With that said, below are some simple things for you to consider based on your Attitude, Body Language, and Congruence when you are evaluating whether or not people perceive YOU as Approachable or Alienating.  And, the reason why we believe this topic is so important is because you may be sending unknown and/or unconscious signals to others when you’re networking that will directly affect the number of referrals you receive and referral partners you make

Approachable Behaviors:

Attitude – Smile, laugh, and look like you are a pleasant person to talk to.  Although this seems ridiculously simple, you’d be surprised as to how many people forget it, and therefore don’t practice it (see Alienating Behaviors below).

Body Language – Dr. Misner’s book “Networking Like A Pro” introduced the reader to the dynamics of how one stands when conversing called ‘Open 2’s’ and ‘Open 3’s.’  In short, if you are in a conversation with another person or persons, make sure your STANCE allows for others who walk past you to easily join the conversation.  Otherwise, they might not see either one of you as approachable then…or ever.

Congruence – Carry yourself as if every person you meet is the Host of that particular networking event.  If you were at someone’s party, you’d go above and beyond the norm to make them feel good about themselves and the party…wouldn’t you?  I guess what we’re saying here is that you attended the networking event to make new friends and deepen relationships with people you already know, right?  Then, it might be appropriate to act like it.

Alienating Behaviors:

Attitude – When attending networking events, leave your own problems at the door.  This is true for both your conscious signals as well as your unconscious signals.  For example, rambling on about your rough personal or professional life is unbecoming of a future referral partner.  Listening to challenges in your relationship or that your boss has favorites in the office are not the reasons why OTHERS attend networking events.  If you’re down, don’t bring other people down.  They might avoid you at the next networking event, and the next, and the next.

Body Language – Also introduced in Dr. Misner’s book “Networking Like A Pro” was the idea of how one stands when conversing called ‘Closed 2’s’ and ‘Closed 3’s’.  In short, it is possible to alienate other people who might want to learn more about you at a networking function simply by standing in a “closed off manner” with those who you are currently speaking with.  Your STANCE means everything in your approachability and allows for others who walk past you to easily join the conversation.

Congruence – (or in this case Incongruence) Lacking consistency between what you say and what you do actually makes a big difference in people’s perception of whether or not you are Approachable or Alienating.  If they see consistent inconsistencies, they may believe you are insincere in the reason why you went networking to begin with.

In closing, our focus has been measuring your weekly activities and how they relate to moving people in your network through The VCP Process® all the way from Visibility through Credibility to Profitability.  We believe that today’s part in the series helped remind you of some simple, yet extremely important ideas to keep “top of mind.”  Do you agree? 

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 9 called “The Fine Line Between Comedy and Competency.”

Social Media & Social Networking–How To Do It Better

On my recent trip to Australia, I got the chance to record this video with my friend Dan Garlick, a networking expert from Tasmania.  In the video, we talk about the best ways to integrate face-to-face networking with social media and social networking in order to achieve the best possible results from your all-around networking efforts.

Watch the video to learn the best ways to approach face-to-face and online networking integration for a stellar outcome no matter where in the world you are (If Dan can do it from Tasmania–the bottom of the world–so can you! ).

The ABCs of Networking–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

(Part 6 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

TR Garland (featured in this video with me) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute.

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Six months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 6 of the series.  in short video format.  Enjoy!

Please let us know what you think of the video by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks!


Audit Your Activities — “Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Five months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 5 of the series.  Enjoy.

 

AUDIT YOUR ACTIVITIES
(Part 5 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , and Part 4 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.

Today, we’d like to share with you one laser-focused Power Habit that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, that Power Habit is based upon the following underlying Success PrincipleIt’s not always about the ACT of the ACTIVITIES that one should focus on. It’s the ANALYSIS of those ACTIVITIES that produces your greatest results.

A close friend of ours, Jim Cathcart (www.Cathcart.com), is listed in the professional Speaker Hall of Fame and is a very well-known author and speaker on the topic of Sales.  In fact, for 3 years in a row Jim has been selected as one of the Top 5 Speakers on Sales & Service.  So, I guess what we’re saying is that we believe “Jim knows his stuff!”  And in a recent conversation, he said: “Things that are measured tend to improve.”

It got us thinking that nothing could be truer, especially in the process of getting referrals.  Many networkers actually become Referral Institute clients because they want the trainers to hold them accountable for their weekly actions so that they get improved results.  We actually steer them towards an amazing online referral tracking tool called Relate2Profit (www.Relate2Profit.com) to help them hold themselves accountable.  But for today’s conversation, let’s take baby steps.  Let’s talk about something you can do with tools you already have at your disposal…a pen and your Daily Planner.

Our focus is measuring your weekly activities and how they relate to moving people in your network through The VCP Process® all the way from Visibility through Credibility to Profitability.

Here are the recommended steps:

  • First thing every Monday morning block off 5 minutes.
  • Write down the names of 5 people who you want passing you steady referrals.
  • Next, in your Daily Planner block off a 2 minute segment of time for each of the 5 days of the week.
  • Then, during each of those separate 2 minute segments choose 1 of the 5 people who you want passing you steady referrals.
  • Finally, TAKE ACTION by doing something to help YOU move that person (who YOU chose) through The VCP Process® to networking on your behalf.

For example, if you are only at Visibility with 1 of those 5 people, what can you do in those 2 minutes to help you move to Credibility with them?  Or, if you are only at Credibility with 1 of those 5 people, what can you do in those 2 minutes to help you move to Profitability with them?

At a loss for ideas on what you can do in 2 minutes to help compel someone to pass you referrals?  Here’s a brief list of activities that you might want to consider:

  • Search the web for an article relevant to their professional (or personal) goals and email it to them.
  • Go to their Facebook timeline or LinkedIn profile and comment on one of their recent posts to show that you care about what they care about.
  • Send them an email acknowledging that you’re aware of who an ideal client is for them…and let them know you’ll continue to be on the lookout.
  • Call them up and invite them to accompany you on a meeting you already have scheduled with a prospective client of yours.

As noted above, this is a recommended series of actions that we suggest you implement on a weekly basis.  If you do, the COMPOUND EFFECT of these weekly Power Habits will deliver you massive results in the medium and long term with your business relationships.

If this seems too simplistic to you right now, please take special note of the following.  In a recent survey over a 12 week period, when asked if they REGULARLY dedicated just 2 minutes for each of the 5 days of the week to perform ANY of the above recommended actions towards staying “top of mind” with prospective Referral Sources…less than 50% of the respondents reported that they did not.

This means that people have identified key Contact Sphere Professionals who should be passing them referrals.  BUT, they go weeks and weeks without performing small actions to compel these people to pass them referrals or even to stay top of mind!

Where would you fit into this survey?

In closing, we’d like to recommend you consider that the above Power Habit that can be performed is actually only 15 minutes of your work week.  If you work a standard 40 hour week, it’s less than 1% of your time investment for that week.  We believe that there should be no excuse for not dedicating 1% of your work week to “staying top of mind” with prospective Referral Sources.  Do you agree? 

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 6 called “The ABC’s of Business Networking”.

Expose Yourself!–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Four months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 4 of the series.  Enjoy.

EXPOSE YOURSELF!
(Part 4 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 3 of this series, we encouraged Business Networkers to honor the chronological steps of the VCP Process®.  In other words, we pointed out that generating a steady stream of referrals takes an investment in time — as well as in the people in your own network.  Take action, we recommended, and become visible.  However, be cautious about “too much Visibility”.

Today, we’d like to revisit and expand upon the following concept that was introduced last month:  If you put yourself out in the marketplace as a person of value, others will want to connect with youYour role is to EXPOSE YOURSELF to your local business community in a valuable way so that people feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you.

Let’s dig deeper . . . If you’ve sought out Business Networking training and education in the past, you’ve most likely heard the following phrase: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.  However, today, we ask the question: “WHAT…do they know you for?”

You see, we believe that there is a strategic way to go about gaining Visibility in your local community.  We believe that if you lead with positive intentions and follow up with valuable contributions, professionals will, in time, feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you (i.e. pass you qualified referrals and/or connect you with Referral Partners).  Attempting to expedite the VCP Process® is almost never a good decision.  And sometimes, it may even backfire.

You may have observed this type of behavior before where people shift into what’s considered to be ‘Visibility’-overload.  In other words, every chance they get they’re doing random “stuff” (yes, that’s the technical term) to be visible without having any sort of thought out strategy.  Do you know what a “Drive-By” is at a networking event?  It’s when someone’s strategy (of lack thereof) is to meet everyone at a mixer.  As such, they’re focused on passing out their business cards to anyone and everyone versus staying in a conversation for longer than 60 seconds.  Has this ever happened to you?  What was your perception of this person?

This and other “Random Acts of Networking” ultimately defeat the overall objective which is to build trust and credibility through cultivating relationships.  Our fear is that people might be placing a lot of time into gaining Visibility, but NOT being able to capitalize on it.  And, it is for this reason that we’d like to introduce the term HYPER-Visibility™.  It’s when people try to get everyone to know them, see them, and hear them through a variety of different means in an effort to expedite the VCP Process® to Networking.  Whereas, in actuality, it typically backfires and may even be detrimental to their reputation and perceived as overkill.

As alluded to before, try not to be plagued by HYPER-Visibility™ and ask the question:  “WHY…do people know you?”

Is it because you:

  • Have volunteered to setup and break down your visitors table at your weekly networking event?
  • Have recently been awarded the “Helping Hand Award” in your local community?
  • Have numerous satisfied clients/customers who say positive things about you?

Or, is it because you:

  • Are at every single networking event in your local community (i.e. you’re everywhere!)?
  • Are the person who adds people to your weekly newsletter without permission?
  • Are constantly conducting ‘off the wall’ introductions (called Sales Manager Minutes in BNI) in an effort to be remembered?

Please be cautious that sometimes if those (albeit memorable, but) ‘off the wall’ introductions have nothing to do with training your network, they may not serve you well.  Being over the top could actually push some people away who might otherwise be keen to learning more about you.  Please also be aware that sometimes when you’re in roles of increased Visibility, your actions are clearer and even amplified.  For example, if you volunteer to help support your local networking group – or even any association or charity – your visibility will be enhanced and you’re typically in the spotlight or under a microscope.  Be cognizant, be strategic, and be prepared.

Visibility is an intricate part to the VCP Process®.   When strategically planned out, this exposure could be your biggest ally.  When attained for no particular rhyme or reason, it could be your biggest enemy.  Hmmm . . . food for thought, isn’t it?

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider that there are actually two different interpretations to the title of this blog post “Expose Yourself!”  First, it can be interpreted as the means by which you strategically and professionally navigate the first step of the VCP Process®.  Or, it can be interpreted that sometimes when you are too visible or seeking visibility for the wrong reasons (or with the wrong approach) you actually “Expose Yourself!”  Moving forward, our recommendation is to conduct an inventory of what steps you’re taking on a weekly basis to become visible within your own local community.  Then, decipher if they are effective at doing the job of helping you move beyond Visibility to Credibility.  If not, then please consider revising or replacing

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 5 called “Audit Your Activities.”

Business Networking and Sex: Survey Says . . . Transactional vs. Relational

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 men and women act differently when it comes to the VCP Process®, transactions, and relationships.

Based on your experience, would you say these results jive with what you’ve found to be true in the networking world?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section–I’d love to hear them!

Too Much Visibility?–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Two months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 3 of the series.  Enjoy.

WHEN IS TOO MUCH VISIBILITY, WELL, TOO MUCH ‘VISIBILITY’?
(Part 3 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced you to the moniker – The Networking Nomad™.  In short, this moniker describes the type of networker who appears to be misinterpreting the very definition of Business Networking.  Click here to review that blog post.  In Part 2 of this series, we recommended you understand that ‘perception is reality’ when it comes to networking – and we encouraged you to be careful about whether or not your network perceives you as a PREDATOR or a PARTNER.  Click here to review that blog post.

Today, we’d like you to give some serious thought to the very first letter in the VCP Process® to Networking.  In short, your goal should be to first enter Visibility with people, then perform activities that will help you build trust and Credibility with them, and finally through time and the strengthening of that relationship, they will most likely pass you consistent referrals in the Profitability stage.  After all, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Years ago, only the elite networkers were privy to this powerful concept.  These days, chances are this valuable information has trickled down to the average networker.  This is both a good thing – and a bad thing.  From our perspective, the good thing is that the average networker is now aware of this concept.  The bad thing is that the average networker typically misinterprets and mismanages the implementation of this concept.  Don’t agree?  Please hear us out . . .

Remember the movie “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson where he forcefully delivers the famous line “You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth!”?  Well, the facts are clear and the truth in business networking is that the average networker’s strategy doesn’t focus on successfully navigating through the VCP Process® and doesn’t focus on finding Referral Partners whom they cultivate long term, mutually beneficial relationships with to provide them consistent referrals.  Or worse yet, the average networker has no strategy at all.

The goal of networking is to build the ultimate network of professionals who, when asked:

  • Can and will support you
  • Can provide you with information to make you more valuable
  • Can vouch for you
  • Can lend you their credibility when introducing you to people in their networks
  • Can refer to you on a consistent basis

If you put yourself out in the marketplace as a person of value, others will want to connect with you.  Your role is to expose yourself to your local business community in a valuable way so that people feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you.  Most people have no concept of this strategy.  That’s what makes it so potent.  And then the dilemma is that a large percentage of those exposed to this strategy will never do the hard work that it takes for success to become a reality.  But, as noted above, the average networker typically misinterprets this concept.

Here’s an example:

Ivan met a woman years ago who told him she was the consummate networker – 100’s of contacts and a wide-ranging network of people from all walks of life.  Then one day in a conversation with him, she dropped a bombshell and said her networking efforts weren’t paying off.  She went on at some length about all the groups she went to, people she met, and how she made all these contacts but wasn’t getting any business.  The truth is that she was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t learning how to actually ‘work’ these networks and build deep relationships.

A music teacher once told his students: “Lousy practice makes a lousy musician.”  The same holds true for networking; lousy networking makes a lousy networker!  This is why “practice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect.”

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Have you exhausted all opportunities in your local community to attend Business Networking and/or Referral Marketing Training workshops?  Have you sought out an expert or someone that has proven results from their networking efforts that you can ask to be your accountability partner?  And…if you have attended workshops in the past, what are the results you’re getting today?  If you’re not getting the number of referrals you expect, maybe it’s time to revisit those workshops?”

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 4 called “Expose Yourself!”

Perception Is Reality! — “Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Last month, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 2 of the series.  Enjoy.

 

PERCEPTION IS REALITY!

(Part 2 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

Last month, in Part 1 of this series, we introduced you to the moniker – The Networking Nomad™.  Click here to review that blog post.

In short, we described the type of networker who appears to be misinterpreting the very definition of Business Networking.  In fact, The Networking Nomad™ is actually treating networking as if it were a direct sales competition and an exercise in prospecting for new clients.  As a result of this type of behavior, they never stay in a networking group long enough to cultivate long-term referral relationships.

The reason why we’re refreshing your memory is because we don’t want you to forget that ‘perception is reality’ when it comes to networking.  And if you’re simply perceived as someone who focuses on his/her network buying your products or services, then any amount of time you invest in that particular network might not deliver you the Return on Investment (ROI) you expect.

You’ve heard us mention before that the VCP Process® to Networking (Visibility leads to Credibility which in turn leads to Profitability) describes the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business relationships.  It’s useful for assessing the status of a relationship and where it fits in the process of getting referrals.

The Networking Nomad™ noted above is actually investing most, if not all, of his/her time in something we call pre-Visibility.  They’re not effective at getting consistent referrals because they’ve fallen into a trap. From time to time they run into a prospect they’ve met before, but aren’t really doing much else to deepen that relationship or work towards finding consistent Referral Sources.

Think about it.  Isn’t it better to have 6 referrals from one person in your network over the next 6-12-18 months rather than to have them become a client today?

There are major differences in the Sales Mindset versus the Networking (or more specifically Referral Marketing) Mindset.  For example, in Sales YOU are the center of the process:

  • YOU have to identify new prospects.
  • YOU have to go out there and meet the new prospects.
  • YOU need to build trust, credibility, and rapport with them.
  • YOU need to inch closer to the sale by conducting the needs analysis.
  • YOU need to respond to Requests for Proposal (RFP’s).
  • YOU need to send and reply to prospect emails.
  • YOU need to do everything you can to get that sale.
  • YOU get the picture?  😉

With the correct Networking Mindset, the process works WITHOUT YOU. Your well-trained Referral Sources and Referral Partners are spreading YOUR message within THEIR network – while you’re spending your time more effectively.

A successful networker has taken the time to seek and forge strong relationships with Contact Sphere Professionals who aim to serve the same or similar client target market.  Therefore, each new client of theirs can be a new client of yours.

And, that same successful networker is saving valuable time by having their network refer them into the sales process steps ahead of what they could’ve accomplish on their own.

Now that’s what we call leveraging another’s efforts.

But…you cannot accomplish this if your network perceives you as a PREDATOR versus a PARTNER.  Therein lays the difference between approaching Business Networking with a Sales Mindset versus a Networking Mindset.

At the end of the day, we understand and respect the fact that it’s your choice on which mindset you approach your networking efforts with.  However, understand that we believe your network will perceive you and deliver you the results that reflect your approach.

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Have you ever perceived someone as exhibiting behaviors of a Predator or a Partner when networking?  If so, what did you observe and what insights did you learn from this observation?” Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below and remember, at the end of the day, we’re only human and it’s important to learn from our own as well as other people’s successes and/or mistakes.

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 3 called “When Is Too Much Visibility, Well, Too Much ‘Visibility’?”

It’s All About Your Mindset–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Today begins the much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which address this and contain some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  TR and I hope you’ll enjoy the series as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

IT’S ALL ABOUT YOUR MINDSET
(Part 1 of 12 of the “Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking” Series)

Leverage.

Let’s restate that word again out loud because it is the essence of why leading sales professionals and small business owners invest their valuable time in Business Networking activities.

Leverage.

We think that probably the best representation of ‘leverage’ as it relates to the topic at hand is J. Paul Getty’s famous quote, “I’d rather have one percent of the efforts of 100 people than 100 percent of my own efforts.”

You see, the difference between the success or failure of someone who is networking as a way of generating revenue is most likely what their perspective of ‘networking’ is.

Story after story is reported to us about people who believe that if they cease going to networking meetings and mixers every single week that their revenue will STOP.  Their perspective is that if they do not maintain a high activity of mixing and mingling with new people that they aren’t ‘networking.’  The truth is that their personal definition of Business Networking appears to be skewed.

Their own description of activities that THEY are performing sounds a lot like selling, doesn’t it?

At its core, Business Networking is “selling through your network, NOT to your network.”  Applying the foundational basics includes building relationships first, amassing trust and credibility in time, and then asking for referrals.  Don’t expect your network to buy from you.  If they do, that’s a bonus – but don’t plan on it or even try to encourage it.  It might actually backfire.

We see it all the time.  People are attracted to the size of the event (i.e., your city or county’s biggest mixer) or the size of the weekly group such as a local BNI Chapter.  These individuals are most likely sales people looking for a Buyer’s Club to help them achieve their quota – nothing more.  Once they pitch their network and a small percentage of people buy from them, they consider that group or network tapped out.  In this instance, you’ll hear these individuals murmuring, “Oh, that networking group isn’t a good one.  I tried it out for 3-4 months, but they don’t pass any referrals.”  They then move on to another networking group and repeat the same self-centered activities (i.e., the rinse and repeat).

Once another 3-4 months rolls by again and they tap out that small percentage of kind souls that purchase from them, it’s back on the meandering trail to wander around and find that next networking group…and the next…and the next.  This is why we’d like to introduce the moniker The Networking Nomad™ — as it fits this type of person and their behavior.

Remember, Business Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting.’  It takes time to cultivate relationships.  But once you dedicate the effort, we believe these relationships ultimately allow you to ‘harvest’ referrals for a lifetime.

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Has my definition of Business Networking evolved through the years?  If so, what events or insights from others influenced this evolution?”

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 2 called “Perception IS Reality!”

Also, we highly encourage you to leave your feedback in the comments section below . . .

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