In this video, I share with John Maxwell how BNI started with my personal need to build my business with referrals. I also share who are my mentors and the philosophy of Givers Gain. Finally, we discussed how you should make decisions based on the information you are provided WITHIN the context of your value system. Please click on the photo below to watch the video of my personal interview with John Maxell.
Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.
Let’s say you’re in a networking group and you have hit a plateau. You can remember a time when your group was on fire, when you all had passion and excitement and you couldn’t get to your meeting fast enough. Now, you all seem to have lost steam, and things just aren’t what they used to be. The referrals aren’t being generated, the 1-2-1’s are happening, and the group seems to groan a little every time the meeting begins. You want to regain the passion and help your network grow, but how?
Like I said–sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.
If you want to add value to your group, you need to take away the things–or people–that are making it dysfunctional. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want your network to grow, you may have to cut it back.
What is the true definition of business networking? I’m going to give it to you straight.
Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge and expand your sphere of influence. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?
Notice that the key word here is relationships. Successful networking of any kind starts with the genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. If you are only networking to gain and not to give, you’ll never be successful.
Remember-networking is more about FARMING than it is about HUNTING. It’s about cultivating relationships and taking the time and energy to help them grow and flourish. A good farmer knows when to tend to his crop and when to harvest it; if you over pick, you’ll be left with nothing. But if you continue to care for and maintain your crop, it’ll grown abundantly.
Watch the video below to hear more details about the true meaning of business networking.
This video is hosted by the Entrepreneur.com YouTube Channel, Networking for Success.
When it comes to networking, the old adage goes, “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” We’ve all heard it and we’ve probably all said it.
But I’m here to tell you it’s NOT about who or what you know, but about how well you know each other!
Networking can become a shallow game if you treat relationships like chess pieces, using them for you own best advantage. Instead, if you approach networking from a personal angle with a genuine desire to get to know others, you’ll have far greater success. But how can you deepen your existing relationships with people to get to the point where they’d be willing to help or refer you in the future?
1. Give them a personal call. I know, I know–calling someone on the phone is so dated. But hear me out. Sending an email or a text message won’t get you the same results as actually making the effort to pick up the phone and call someone. Set up a 1-2-1 meeting and DO NOT try to sell them. Set up this meeting to deepen the connection and start to build a professional relationship.
2. Make personal calls to all the people who have helped or referred you business to you in the past. Ask them how things are going. Try and learn more about their current activities so you can help in some way.
3. Put together a “touch-point list” of fifty people you’d like to stay in touch with this year. Include anyone who has sent business your way in the past twelve months as well as any other prospects you’ve connected with recently. Send them cards on the next holiday, connect with them on social media, and stay connected in any other way you believe they are most interested in.
4. Two weeks after you’ve connected with them (from step 4) call them and see what’s going on. if they’re past clients or people you’ve talked to before, now is the perfect time to ask for a referral. If they’re prospects, perhaps you can set up an appointment to have coffee and find out if their plans might include using your services.
The notion of love is too touchy-feely for many of us, especially when it comes to business.
But my friend and fellow Transformational Leadership Council Member, Steve Farber, doesn’t think so. Steve is one of the most renowned leadership speakers in the industry. When we were in Napa Valley together last week, he talked to me about making love a part of your every day mantra as a business owner.
“If the customer loves you, you can blow up their building and they’ll say ‘Eh–accidents happen,'” Steve said (OK, so that might be a bit extreme. But you get what he’s trying to say.)
Steve goes on to say that it’s more than just the forgiveness factor that makes it worth having a loving relationship with your customers.
“Love is what leads to customer loyalty,” he said. “it’s what leads to word-of-mouth and growing your organization.”
I think this advice is spot on. If your customer relationships are held in as high regard as the service you provide, you can only benefit. Customers want to love you-they want to trust and believe in you, which are foundational building blocks of love. Focus on building those blocks with the goal of creating loving, loyal customer relationships, and you’ll create a strong reputation that will hold up in the business community.
This article is from guest blogger and BNI Executive Director Dana Gallagher.
For the first time in American history, three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – all with different work ethics, values, beliefs and experiences are working side-by side. One generation stands out from the rest because they have become the largest generation in the workforce. Who are they? You guessed it… Millennials!
Let’s take a step back. What is a Millennial? This term refers to the generations born between 1982 and the early 2000’s. Born in the year 1990, I am proud to say that I, myself am a Millennial. In this article I will be focusing on how my generation does business, communicates, and networks.
Face-to-face networking will never go out of style. This leads me to a common misconception; that millennials would rather network with one another via social media than face-to-face. All of my experiences, and everyone I know, have shown this to be the exact opposite. If we had a choice of either type of networking the answer would be face-to-face every time, hands down. Human interaction is one of the most powerful ways to network and connect with others.
With that being said, getting out to networking events every night and seeing people isn’t always an option. Lucky for us, we have other means of building relationships when we are unable to meet face-to-face. So what are some of the other ways we network and how does our different generational attributes effect the way we communicate?
On a daily basis, I communicate with people approximately ten different ways. The most common ways are text messaging, group text messages, phone calls, e-mail, Facebook, Facebook group pages, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, FaceTime, and LinkedIn. Many other millennials use apps, like GroupMe, Voxer, Twitter, Skype, and Kik as a means to meet and connect with other people. Wait a minute, why do Millennials choose to use all these ways to communicate? Simply put, it’s quick, easy, and switching tasks helps hold our interest.
While referring to our communication style, informality is key. For the most part we find it completely acceptable to reach out to other business associates, bosses, and acquaintances via text, LinkedIn, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, or whatever else. As long as we get in touch with the person we need, why does it matter how we do so?
After meeting someone at a networking event, wedding, back yard barbecue, or any other get-together, we will most likely friend them on Facebook, add them on SnapChat, follow them on Instagram, connect with them on LinkedIn, or all of the above. By having so many resources to connect with each other we are able to build relationships faster (from the mass amounts of information online) and keep our relationships longer because of the ease of staying in touch. I may not see you for two years but I know you have become engaged, bought a house, went on vacation, and adopted a new dog, all because you friended me on Facebook. In short, it’s easier for millennials to establish long term relationships.
We are a generation that prefers to socialize and work in groups because we grew up in an environment that promoted constant team work. On a daily basis, our school teachers would have us work in groups to accomplish assignments. When everyone played their part, we learned that by working together we can achieve more, create a better result, and have fun! Our grade school teaching style fostered the belief that collaboration is the most effective way to get a job done.
One of the reasons that BNI is so great for millennials is that it accomplishes two things at once. We are able to socialize in a group setting while also building a network of people who can help accomplish one another’s goals by working together as a team. There is no better support system for a young entrepreneur or business professional than a group of entrepreneurs, professionals, and field experts that can share their best practices and learn together.
Our generation is pursuing careers for more than a paycheck and rejecting the old school mentality of the more you work, the more you’re worth. We believe that success is based on efficiency and results, rather than long hours and harder work. By completing our work quicker, we are able to get more accomplished throughout the day and fulfill our desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
The focus on a healthy work-life balance has caused a change in the beginning stages of networking. Rather than the typical conversation starter, “Tell me about your business,” you are more likely to hear millennials start a conversation off with, “What do you like to do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Why is that? Well, we’re pickier about the people with whom we do business. Millennials prefer to work alongside people whose values and interests align with their own.
Of course, it goes almost without saying that every person is an individual, so keep in mind that some of the characteristics we’ve discussed may not be applicable to every millennial. However, the information in this article refers to the millennial generation as a whole and the common trends that will help you to network and better communicate with them in professional circles.
When networking, do you only talk to those who can give you the most in return? Do you only give your business card to someone who you will bring you a ton of referrals? Do you only give referrals if you know you’ll get them in return?
If this sounds like you, you are doing it all wrong. Networking is not a vending machine. You don’t put in coins into the machine and get a candy bar every time–sometimes, you have to wait for your candy.
This mentality is called “transactional networking,” which is going to get you nowhere quickly in the world of referral networking. The “I will give you this, now you have to give me that,” point of view is only going to leave you sorely disappointed.
Instead, the proper mindset is, “Let me help you. I’ve got some ideas. I have a referral for you.” Over time, they’ll give it back you when the opportunity arises. This mentality is called “relational.” Keeping score or holding a referral back because you haven’t received one in return won’t always work, but thinking about giving before getting and making it the foundation of your business reputation, will.
Let’s take a closer look. If you’re keeping score and have given two referrals, but only received one in return, you might be a little disappointed. But consider the value of those referrals. You can’t simply go by the numbers. Two referrals to a florist are vastly different than two referrals to a real estate agent. By the same token, we don’t think it’s realistic to expect $1,000 worth of referrals from someone just because you passed them referrals of that amount.
By applying the Givers Gain philosophy, you will make your referral relationships relational rather than transactional and find success in this relationship. Let’s say there’s somebody you don’t know well, but you want to know that person better and build a referral relationship. You think this person may be able to help you and you know you can help them. You don’t start a referral relationship by asking them to sign a contract that for every referral you give him, he has to give you one in return! The way to start the process is to give.
I understand the hesitation to give referrals to someone you don’t know well–but giving doesn’t have to start with a referral. It can start with a conversation. If you’re having a conversation with a possible referral partner and they express a problem they may be having, you might say, “You know, I just read a great article on that. I’ll email it to you.” You hand them your business card with your email address on it, they do the same and –voila! A connection is made through giving.
Remember, networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships.
I’ve been thinking about the concept of trust lately. Given all that’s happening around the world, with the constant influx of distressing news, it’s hard to know what information to trust, or who to trust, or even where to place our trust.
In networking, trust is a major factoring in giving and receiving referrals– remember, it’s not what you know or who you know, but how well you know each other that counts. In this fast-paced, digital, 140-character age we live in, having an actual conversation with an actual person can feel daunting (and sometimes, we notice that we’ve forgotten how to do it.)
On that note, I wanted to take a moment a reflect on a fundamental of networking, and a fantastic way to start to earn trust–the GAINS exchange. When you have a 1-2-1 with someone you’ve networked with, it’s important to begin to build the foundation of the relationship in an effective, time efficient way. GAINS is the perfect way to do that.
The ice breaker goes as follows: Goals, Achievements, Interests, Networks and Skills. Whether these are professional or personal answers (or possibly both) it’ll help the conversation flow easily and begin to build that foundation of trust.
The first time you introduce the ice breaker, it can feel a little awkward; but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with it. Begin practicing the exchange with someone you’re comfortable with–you might be surprised at their answers!
Take some time to write down your answers, and really reflect on it. You might even learn something new about yourself.
This is the fifth and final video in the “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com. In this series, I expand on common phrases I’ve used throughout my 31 years of referral-based networking.
When you’re at a networking event, do you eagerly bounce around the room, chatting with various people and passing out business cards? Do you tend to seek deep connections by only talking to a few people for longer periods? Everyone has their own way of making connections and networking, and it helps to understand just where you fall in the lineup.
Knowing your networking behavioral style will help you capitalize on your skills–and maybe even identify some flaws to improve upon. Take a look at the video below to find out YOUR style and maybe the next time you’re at an event, you’ll be able to better position yourself for greater success.
Passion. Energy. Gratitude.
Those tokens are what I remember from those who attended the BNI Conferences of Italy and England.
For those of you who don’t know, my wife Beth and I were in Europe the past three weeks traveling to Italy and England for their BNI National Conferences. This was our first trip to Italy, and I hadn’t visited England in several years, so this was a big deal for all those involved.
One of the reasons I enjoy traveling to the international conferences, is because I love meeting the people who drive BNI: our Members. Business owners who are working hard to make it in the world, who are dedicated to our core values, who are passionate about learning ways to make their business better. Seeing their energy and their commitment is what drives me to keep producing content and find new ways to give real people real advice on networking and small business performance.
In Italy, what impressed me the most was the hospitality of the people. The warmth and kindness was palpable and I had no problem opening up–even with the language barrier. Like I always say, networking is the same in any language, and culture can’t stop people from interacting from one another. (In fact, I challenge you to network with someone who practices a different culture than you do– you might be surprised at just how similar you are.) Everyone wants to succeed, everyone wants to use the tools given to them in the right way–which is something I felt deeply from Italian Members. At every turn there was someone shaking my hand, thanking me for helping them push through some of the hardest times of their professional lives–for that, I am grateful.
Our Members in England were unique in their energy, to be sure. The excitement and enthusiasm was something I wish I could bottle and take whenever I need a boost! Once I took the stage on Friday at their conference’s Members Day, the Tweets began multiplying like fireworks–hundreds within a mere few hours. It wasn’t ignorance on fire, but passion, which is even better. They took every word of my speech to heart, hung on every word, which made me feel completely humbled and appreciative. I look over those tweets and think, “Wow! They liked me–they really liked me!”
Take a look through this photo album and see if you can feel what I felt during that time. It was truly something I will never forget.
The following video is part of my new “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com, where I expand on catch phrases I have used frequently over the years.
I know, it’s a strange concept: “Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.”
Most people read that statement and think, someone who’s excited but ignorant can do more harm than good.
I’m here to tell you that the opposite of your intuition is true. That’s right–and you’ll see why below.
What better what to celebrate a normal Thursday, than by putting on a red nose?
Trust me, it’s for a good cause–no–a GREAT cause.
Red Nose Day brings awareness and fundraising efforts to children’s charities across the globe. At the BNI Foundation, we support children in education, so this movement seemed like a great fit for us to support. Nonprofits such as charity: water, National Urban League and Save the Children will benefit from 100% of the proceeds raised through Red Nose Day.
Tonight, NBC will host a special featuring live entertainment from well-known celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon and U2, all while fundraising for children living in poverty.
Beth and I hope you tune in and donate to this very worthy cause. And meanwhile, enjoy this clip of us donning our own red noses!