Two Keys to Finding the Right Networking Partners

I once received an interesting e-mail from a man who read an article I wrote about collaboration and working together.  He said, “The type of networking you talk about describes the way things should work, but in the real world most people seem to have an attitude of what’s in it for me.”  He asked, “How can I prevent wasting my time and efforts on people, only to find that they have this kind of attitude?”

The short answer to his question is this—stop hanging out with the wrong kind of people and start actively seeking out the right kind of people.  Trust me, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to getting stuck with the wrong people and in order to move beyond that and build the kind of network that wants to help YOU (knowing that you also want to help them) is a journey—not a destination.

I have two suggestions to make finding the right networking partners easier. First, look for some of the signs relating to people who fit the profile of good networkers.  They include:

  • People who ask how they can help you or what they can offer you (and mean it), before they ask anything from you.
  • Individuals who show that they are willing to work on creating a professional relationship over a period of time because they understand that they must develop credibility with you before asking for your business or your referrals.
  • Those who make the time to go beyond the normal business interactions with those from whom they want to be able to ask for support.
  • Professionals who understand that networking is more about farming than hunting and show it in their actions by making the effort to get to know you outside of the business environment whenever possible, knowing that the more of a friendship there is between you, the more expectations you can both have from each other’s networking efforts.
  • People who do what they can to bring business and contacts to you and their other networking partners, who share pertinent information with you, and invite you to business meetings that’ll position you favorably with others you need to get to know.
  • Individuals who give of their time and knowledge in order to help their referral sources succeed.

Second, immerse yourself in the process of relationship building.   

A network that is a mile wide and an inch deep is not a strong network.  Create a personal network that is both wide and deep.  Meeting with people regularly is the key to making this happen.  Participate in networking groups where you are going to see the same people on a regular basis.  This will help you develop relationships and screen out the what’s in it for me networkers.

Think about your current networking partners . . . who is one of your most trusted, most valued networking partners?  I’d love to hear the story behind how you met this person and how you formed such a trusted, mutually beneficial networking partnership.  Please share your story in the comments section–thanks!

How to Get an Edge and Stand out in the Networking World

To some businesspeople, networking is something to try when they’re hurting for business.  However, networking is actually a primary strategy for generating business relationships that lead to more referrals.  When done correctly, networking is a proactive strategy for business growth, not a reaction to slow business.

I think the most important single idea in networking is to do what others don’t Doing what others don’t gives you an edge.  It can position you head and shoulders above your competition.  It helps you stand out in a positive way and, when you do, people are attracted to you and your business, and your success grows stronger, deeper and more durable.

 

So go beyond the norm. Take the time to gather information for improving your business by getting straightforward feedback from people.  This will help you identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses so you can take corrective action.  Some more ideas that most people don’t take the time or effort to implement are:

  •  Adopt the attitude of a host at networking mixers
  • Use your influence and professional status to help members of your network solve problems
  • Learn to specifically ask for referrals
  • Take every opportunity to educate yourself on how to better your business and your networking efforts

What is something you do to go beyond the norm and do what most people don’t when it comes to your networking efforts?  There are so many things you can do to stand out from the crowd and I’d really love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

Lacking Motivation?–Follow These Steps

Sometime ago, one of my blog readers asked me this question:

I was wondering what do you do when your motivation level is lacking as well as your self esteem? What do you do to regain the motivation needed to move on with your plans and pursue your endeavors?

This is a great question and here’s my answer:

First of all, let me say that I am as certain of what I’m about to say as anything in my life – motivation comes from within you not from outside you. No one can motivate you but yourself. I’m speaking long-term motivation. Many years ago, Frederick Herzberg wrote about motivation and he said that others can motivate you but only in the short term. He called that KITA (Kick in the… Anatomy – that’s really what he called it).

On the other hand, long term motivation comes from within. So, that begs the question – how do you motivate yourself when your motivation is low? First, you should understand that everyone has to deal with this throughout their lives. I’ve never met anyone that was immune to this (I certainly am not). So, what do I do when I feel down?

Here are some of the things that have helped me:

  1. Minimize contact with negative people! That’s not always completely possible but do it as much as you can. At least do this for for a short while. I really believe that some people complain as though it were an Olympic event! Keep clear of them while you are trying to get your mojo back.
  2. Maximize time with people that refuel your energy! You become the five or six people you hang out the most with. Hang out with people that make you want to “do” and “be” better.
  3. Read/listen/watch positive things. If you are feeling down, read a positive book. Listen to a CD with a positive message. Watch something that makes you laugh! Surround yourself with some things you love to be influenced by. Let that in to your life as much as possible.
  4. Prioritize the things you want to do and must do. Make a list. I live by lists. The more I can get a handle on the things I need and want to do – the easier it is to tackle them.
  5. Eat the elephant one bite at a time. Take that list you’ve created and tackle some of that list EVERY DAY. If you really do this – you will be amazed at how much you get accomplished. The more you accomplish – the better you will feel. They feed each other.

There’s plenty more we can do to generate motivation but I believe the list above is a good start. Is there something specific you have had success with that you could add to this list?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below and tell us how it has helped you motivate yourself?  This is an important topic and I’d love to hear your ideas about it, as I’m sure other readers would as well, because we can all use a little good advice to motivate ourselves every now and then. Thanks in advance for your input.

Attitude Is a Choice and Choosing Wisely Is a Necessity

Years ago I wrote a blog on the importance of attitude in networking and recently I’ve had several situations arise which have reminded me yet again that attitude shapes the outcome of everyday dealings in huge ways so I’d like to revisit the idea in today’s blog post . 

Some days my schedule involves marathon radio interviews beginning at 4 a.m. and, as you can imagine, getting up at an hour when roosters haven’t even begun to think about warming up their vocal chords is not the most enticing of tasks. However, as the Founder & Chairman of BNI®, the world’s largest business networking organization, I agree to do these interviews at such an outrageous hour because it is my responsibility to do whatever needs to be done to network for the organization.

Now, can you imagine what would happen if  I answered the interviewer’€™s first question–which is always “How are you doing today, Dr. Misner?”–€”by grumbling about how I had stubbed my toe and how I wished I was back in my warm bed?  Well, what would happen is that people would be immediately turned off by my negative attitude and nobody would listen to me.

This brings me to my point that in order to be a master networker, you must always maintain a positive attitude no matter what.  With over two decades of professional networking experience, one thing I’ve learned is how important it is to have a positive attitude in order to successfully network.  And if I’€™m going to go around telling other people how to discipline and train themselves to network effectively, then I darn well better be walking the walk (or at least limping along, stubbed toe and all) and maintaining the positive attitude of a master networker.

Now that I’ve shared the second most important trait of a master networker, I figure might as well give you the other nine.  Here they are, ranked in order of their perceived importance to networking:

 

1. Follows up on referrals
2. Positive attitude
3. Enthusiastic/motivated
4. Trustworthy
5. Good listening skills
6. Networks always
7. Thanks people
8. Enjoys helping
9. Sincere
10. Works their network. 

Starting this week, try making a conscious effort to be aware of your attitude at all times and if it could stand some improvement think about three simple things you could do to change your attitude for the better on a daily basis.  If you’ve already got a great handle on maintaining a positive attitude, take this week to focus on one or more of the other nine traits of a master networker and think of three ways you can build your effectiveness in these areas.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you might do to implement the ideas in this blog so please share your comments in the forum below. Thanks!

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

Networking Is an Acquired Skill

The Third Law of Notable Networking: Networking Is an Acquired Skill
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking and Click Here to read about the Second Law)

Most people are not born networkers; they develop the skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice.  Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively.  The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element.  Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively.  It is a skill that will only grow in importance.

Remember Will Rogers’ statement about being on the right track:  “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!”  If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.”  The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer.  This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.

Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how.  This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons.  Sure, you can perform, but how well?  Simply attending meetings is not enough.  You need to listen to CDs, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This is no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Always keep in mind that in order to develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business, you must attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice!  Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others.  If you have questions about what to do (and/or not do) in order to most effectively greet people, exchange cards, listen, excuse or introduce yourself, please let me know in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to do follow-up blog posts on any/all of those specific aspects of networking (as well as any other aspects you may have questions about). Thanks!

The Three Laws of Notable Networking

Over the last few decades, I’ve met individuals who have developed such incredible networking skills that they get almost 100 percent of their business through referrals.  They’ve been successful at building a word-of-mouth-based business because they’re as committed to giving referrals as they are to following up on the referrals they get.  What does it take to achieve results like these?

There are three requirements or laws for becoming a Notable (or effective) Networker.  Without applying these laws, you would find it impossible to work your networks effectively.

At face value the laws seem simple, but don’t let first impressions deceive you.  Behind these simple-sounding principles lies a comprehensive set of requirements and obligations.  If you don’t heed these laws, you will invest many hours and some dollars into networking groups but get a poor return on your investment.

The Three Laws of Notable Networking Are:

  1. Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude
  2. Learn How to Use Networking Tools Effectively
  3. Networking Is an Acquired Skill

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going into detail about each of the above laws so be sure to come back to learn more about how you can become a truly Notable Networker and get optimum results from all of your networking efforts and investments.

Also, if you have a story about how you’ve used one or more of the above laws to achieve success in networking, please share it in the comments section below so we can all learn from your successes.  Thanks!

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.”

Not a Born Networker? Don’t Sweat It–You’re in Good Company

For the majority of the world, networking is an acquired skill.  Most people are not born networkers; they develop networking skills through education, training, the right attitude, and long practice. 

Any technique of value requires a commitment to learning how to use it effectively.  The next generation of business professionals will operate under a different model of management, in which networking will be an integral element.  Take advantage of every opportunity you have to learn to network more effectively.  It is a skill that will only grow in importance.

It’s like a statement Will Rogers once made about being on the right track: “If you’re just sitting there, you’re going to get run over!”  If you are active in a networking organization, you’re “on the right track.”  The key, however, is to take advantage of the opportunities that these groups have to offer.  This means you need to be an active participant in the networking process to get any substantive results.

Curiously, many people invest time in networking, but not in learning how to network.  This is like trying to play tennis or golf without lessons.  Sure, you can perform, but how well?  Simply attending meetings is not enough.

You need to listen to CDs and podcasts, watch videos, read books and articles, talk to people who network well, and most important, practice what you’ve learned.  This no less than what you would do to learn how to play golf, manage people, or sell a product.

Attend every networking event that you can and practice, practice, practice!  Practice greeting people, handing out your card, asking for their cards, listening, excusing yourself, and introducing yourself to others.  In short, there are many skills to acquire and to perfect; you can’t expect to become a master after your first couple of visits to various networking functions.  With that in mind, consistently learn and absorb all you can about how to become an effective networker and make a constant effort to put what you learn into practice. 

Networking success is not about being a born natural . . . it’s about learning, practicing, and applying what you learn in order to become a master at networking.  Putting in the work to become successful at networking is sure to pay big rewards, not only in business but in life as well.

Do you have a story about how your time and effort in becoming a better networker have paid off in a remarkable way?  If so, please share it in the comments section.

Being a True Leader

One of the subjects I get asked about often in interviews is leadership.  I’ve learned quite a bit about leadership through my role as founder and chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business referral organization. But I’ve also been extremely privileged to be able to build relationships with and gain insight into the subject from some of the world’s top leaders in several fields and industries.

One of the first people who comes to mind when I think about what it means to be a true leader is my friend and colleague, Brian Tracy. Brian is the epitome of a leader–he is dedicated to succeeding by helping others succeed, and he uses his depth of experience to teach others how to become leaders themselves.

Brian has classified the key qualities of leadership as integrity, discipline, responsibility, courage and long-time perspective, and he lives his life according to those qualities.  Brian was recently diagnosed with throat cancer and, true to the form of a leader who genuinely walks the walk, his positive attitude, courage and hopeful outlook for the future continue to remain rock solid.

Brian says, “When you think about it, having cancer can be a metaphor for any big problem or unexpected setback in life . . . I choose to see this as a ‘learning experience.’  Maybe I’ll develop a speech or seminar to share what I’ve learned, and the parallels with the ups and downs of normal life.”

Leadership is about using your experience and wisdom to move others in a positive direction; it’s about empowering others by serving as an example. Brian doesn’t just give presentations about leadership and advise others on how to be good leaders–he exemplifies everything a true leader should be, especially during times when it’s not easy to be in such a position.

Click here to see how Brian is continuing to inspire and motivate others through his experiences.  We can all learn more than a thing or two about being a true leader from Brian Tracy.

If Brian has inspired you to accomplish your goals and lead yourself and others to success, tell us about it by leaving a comment below.  You can also copy and paste your comment for Brian to read on his blog.

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