True or False?–The More You Promote Yourself, the More Referrals You’ll Get . . .

If you believe that promoting yourself, in the traditional sense, is the best way to get referrals, I hate to break it to you but it’s actually not a particularly effective way of generating referrals.  The thing is, just talking about yourself is not enough–you’ve got to teach people how to refer you.

You’d think that people would listen when you describe what you do and then just naturally put two and two together when they come across somebody who needs your product or service but unfortunately it doesn’t often happen that way.  People need to be led down the path.  You’ve got to say, “This is what I do.  Here’s what you need to look for, and this is how you refer me.”

Every day we all stand in the middle of a sea of referrals.  They are all around us, they happen all the time, but unless we (and our potential referral sources) are trained to pick up on them, we are oblivious to them. 

The secret is to train yourself and your sources to listen for the language of referrals.  Tell them, “When someone says, ‘I can’t,’ ‘I need,’ ‘I want,’ or ‘I don’t know,’ whatever she says next is a possible referral for me.”  Teach your sources to listen for words or phrases expressing a specific need: “I can’t get this lawnmower engine running right,” or “I don’t know which tax form I need to use,” or “I want to remodel my dining room, but I don’t know any good contractors.”  One of these could translate into a referral for you or someone you know.

Remember also that referral success arises from a system where information flows in both directions.  Approach it not by promoting yourself but by learning about other people’s businesses in order to find business for them first.  After that you can explain to them what you do–if they’re interested.  Maintaining a balance, with an emphasis on the philosophy of Givers Gain®, is what will most efficiently and effectively bring you success in referral marketing.

Think of one person in your network whose business you are interested in knowing more about.  What ways can you think of to get the ball rolling this week in regard to opening up a discussion with that person about each other’s respective businesses?  Please leave your comments, thoughts, and ideas in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Get Ready for International Networking Week 2013!

International Networking Week®  2013 is almost here and with it comes tremendous opportunity for  businesspeople across the globe to grow business through the development  of powerful new connections!

International Networking Week®  is an initiative of BNI® and its focus is to celebrate the key role that networking plays in the  development and successs of business around the world.  It’s about  creating an awareness of the process of networking.  Not just any kind  of networking, but “relationship networking”–an approach to doing  business based on building long-term, successful relationships with  people through the networking process.

Over the past several years, International Networking Week has been  gaining momentum worldwide and for the past few years, the Week has been recognized by  tens of thousands of people around the world and acknowledged by many  governmental agencies and high profile organizations.

The number of people participating in this year’s celebration of International Networking Week®, through hundreds of large events and thousands of smaller events, is expected to be even greater than it was in 2012.

You can join in the celebration of the Week by:

  • Watching the 2013 International Networking Week Video by CLICKING HERE. Please feel free to share the link with everyone in your network and post it on any websites you may have.
  • Visiting www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com for more information and a list of worldwide events.
  • Participating in this year’s recommended special International Networking Week networking exercise by bringing an individual who has been a significant influence on your business/life to the  networking meeting or event you’ll be attending during International  Networking Week.  For full details, please click on the link below.

SPECIAL NETWORKING EXERCISE–INTERNATIONAL NETWORKING WEEK 2013

How are you planning on celebrating International Networking Week?  I’d love to hear your ideas on additional ways to celebrate this year so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Are You Overlooking the Importance of Storytelling in Business?


When you tell a story, is it compelling?

In this short video, I’m joined by Deanna Tucci-Schmitt, a successful business owner and master networker, who shares the reason why storytelling is such an integral part of business.  She reminds us that stories are much easier to remember than statistics and facts.  When you tell your business’ facts in story form, your “story” is retained, retold, and often referred.

After watching the video, please share how telling some of the key stories about your business has gotten you more business in the past, or how they might possibly help you obtain more business in the future.

Authenticity Is the ‘New’ Audacity

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®.  Ten 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.  In the past, we’ve co-authored the articles.  Today, I’m proud to share with you Part 10 of the series – which is written entirely by TR as a Guest Blogger.  Please comment below and let us know what you think.

 

AUTHENTICITY IS THE ‘NEW’ AUDACITY

(Part 10 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

Have you ever heard the following phrase: “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business”? 

I have.  And every time I hear it, it still disappoints me.  Today, business is personal and people do business with ME because of ME, and they should do business with YOU because of YOU – not because you perfected some PowerPoint presentation or recently attended a Sales seminar on how to overcome a prospect’s objections.

Nowadays the consumer marketplace that fuels the economy sets the criteria on how they wish to be treated.   Consequently, to society today the term ‘overcoming objections’ sounds a lot more like the following descriptive words:

  • Persuade
  • Manipulate
  • Convince
  • Coax

When it comes to buying, purchasing, or investing criteria, I don’t know about you, but the concept of being ‘closed’ and the terminology used in the Traditional Sales Model doesn’t translate that well with me – and probably society overall for that matter.  I don’t want to be ‘convinced’ of anything and my guess is that you don’t either.  If you’re interested in creating a long-term client/customer relationship, it’s my presumption that it’s probably not in your best interest to start off by persuading, manipulating, or convincing your potential client to do business with you.  Don’t you agree?

Yet the sad truth is that, today, it’s probably a safe bet that we could go to Amazon.com and search books on the topic of Sales.  It’s also probably a safe bet that we’d find hundreds (and potentially even thousands) of Sales books with their title including the words ‘Persuasion Techniques’, ‘How To Close The Sale’, and even ‘How To Overcome Objections.’  Yes, people who employ these tactics will get results.  I’ll concede that point.  But these tactics continue to reinforce the lifestyle of a HUNTER – behaviors that are long gone as conduct that small business owners and entrepreneurs idolize.

Remember, Business Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting’.  It takes time to cultivate relationships.  But once you dedicate the effort, these relationships ultimately allow you to ‘harvest’ referrals for a lifetime.  Today, people choose to do business with other people because of:

  1. Who they are
  2. What they stand for and
  3. The lessons that life has taught them through their own personal experiences that uniquely qualify them to offer the marketplace a product or service in a way that only they could deliver.

If you seek Client relationships, today’s customers aren’t just buying what you sell. They’re buying who you are.   If you seek Strategic Partner relationships, people refer other people – NOT the product or service they offer or the actual company that they represent.

When networking and getting to know other professionals, if you shy away from who you are, what you stand for, and what personal experiences life has revealed to you, then your message most likely will not resonate today and you may not get the results that you expect.  Don’t make a mess of your message by trying to recite the ‘About Us’ Section of your company’s website when you first meet people.  What is captivating to other professionals these days is congruency with how you communicate that you are a real person through your attitude, behavior, and actions.

The definition of Audacity according to Wikipedia is to be BOLD, COURAGEOUS, or have CHUTZPAH.  I say that it’s pretty bold to be yourself with all your wonderful flaws (nobody’s perfect) because it proves your authenticity and attracts connection.  Everybody has relationships, yet few people relate.  Strive to be one of the few.  If you truly act like yourself all the time and not just in your personal life, then people will be able to relate.  This builds trust, credibility, and camaraderie.  If your behavior is different depending on whether you’re in a personal or professional environment, then you may be attracting people who are attracted to who you’re pretending to be.  And, it’s my belief that this is not the recipe for a long term professional relationship that’ll provide a steady stream of referrals.

In the grand scheme of things, you devote your time networking at the local Chamber of Commerce, Association Mixers, and even weekly BNI meetings to receive a return on your investment (ROI) in the form of regular referrals.  Navigating the VCP Process® to networking from Visibility to Credibility all the way to Profitability would most likely then be your goal.  Based on the marketplace’s value on authenticity today, I personally believe that your easiest path to Profitability is to start by simply being yourself.  Isn’t that a sigh of relief? 🙂

In closing, a successful small business owner’s mission is not solely to take the action to network.  It’s about taking the actions to ensure that you connect and relate with others when you network that really counts.   I 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 11 called “Don’t Make a Mess of Your Message.”

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.”

8 Tips for Throwing a Successful Business Mixer

Establishing a word-of-mouth, referral-based business sometimes requires getting people to come to “your cave” to learn more about your products and services.  Throwing a business mixer is a great way to do this yet, I’ll admit, throwing a successful business mixer isn’t easy.

However, if you remember that your primary purpose is to facilitate networking, you’ll be okay.  Here are eight tips that will help you host an effective,  successful business mixer:

  • If you have a large enough office, throw a business mixer there to get exposure for your business.
  • Plan the mixer no less than eight weeks in advance.  Invite many guests and get people to donate door prizes.
  • Allow all to bring information on their products or services.  Have one or more large tables set aside with a sign for this purpose.
  • Designate several “Visitor Hosts” to greet the guests as they arrive.  When people start to arrive, make sure all fill out their name tags properly.  Have few chairs available.
  • Conduct a short networking exercise, such as having each guest meet three people he hasn’t met before or having everyone find someone in a similar business and ask one another what their most effective networking tactics/efforts have been.
  • There are many innovative things you can do to make a mixer both fun and successful, such as have a “Meet Your (Business) Match” mixer with designated areas for specific business professions such as finance, real estate, health care, etc.  Or, have everyone pick a card with the name of one half of a famous duo out of a hat.  Then, each person keeps meeting people until he or she runs into his or her “partner.”
  • Always remember what’s mentioned in the intro to this blog: your primary purpose is to facilitate networking and if you focus on that and don’t try to distract from that purpose by dominating the event with speeches or presentations, you’ll be on track for mixer success.
  • At the end of the mixer, spend no more than about ten minutes doing introductions and giving door prizes.

If you’ve hosted networking mixers before and have some additional tips to offer or if you have interesting stories to tell about your experience with hosting a mixer, please share your thoughts in the comments section so we can all learn from what you have to say. Thanks!

Raymond Aaron on Brand Creation & Brand Polishing

I had the pleasure of recording this video with my good friend Raymond Aaron while in Canada for the TLC (Transformational Leadership Council) Conference at the end of July and this is a must-see video for anyone wanting to build their business (which, if you’re reading this blog, more than likely describes you).

Raymond says that if you’re having difficulties attracting the clients and the wealth that you want, it’s very likely that this is due to the fact that you’re in an ‘ocean of sameness.’  In other words, you might know how you’re different than your competitors and your clients may very well know it too, but to everyone else out there in the world looking at you, you look the same as every other professional that does what you do.

Watch the video to learn about the easiest way to differentiate yourself using brand creation and brand polishing so you can get out of the ‘ocean of sameness’ for good.

Also, be sure to visit www.Aaron.com to get a FREE copy of Raymond’s book, Double Your Income Doing What You Love.

Two Tactics to Help with the ABCs of Networking — “Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking” Series

(Part 7 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®.  Seven 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 7 of the series  which is a follow up to the Part 6 video blog we did about the ABCs of networking.  Enjoy!

Please let us know what you think of the ABCs of Networking concept, the two tactics we offer in this video, or just the video in general.  We’d love to read your comments in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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!


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