Preparation & Follow Up–the Two Keys to Referral Success

In this brief video, filmed at the 2012 BNI® International Directors’ Conference in early November, I talk with Terry Hamill, a respected business networking expert based in Europe.  Terry explains two important keys for maximum effectiveness and success in business referral generation–preparation and follow up.

Terry advises that the true gold is in the follow up and that the most successful networkers use the strongest follow-up methods; he also offers a few important tips for preparation prior to attending networking meetings and events.

Do you have a favorite follow-up method or a highly effective preparation tactic that you use prior to attending networking functions?  If so, we’d love to hear about it!  What works well for you could really help other people in their journey to networking success so, by all means, please feel free to share your favored methods and tactics in the comment forum below. Thanks!

We vs. Me

While it may not single-handedly solve all the economic problems facing the world today, a new model of community and networking may well be the key to pulling the global economy out of the effects of the long-term global recession.

Networking has always been a powerful strategy to get business by giving business and connecting with others. Community and networking will be a particularly potent formula for success and prosperity over the coming decades.

Michael R. Drew, publishing expert and friend of mine whom I’ve known for 13 years who has helped me achieve bestseller status five times over, has some interesting ideas about the importance of building relationships to succeed in business.

Michael and his coauthor, Roy H. Williams have a very interesting theory in their new book Pendulum [www.penduluminaction.com/bni]. After reading the book, it confirmed in my mind why business networking is positioned to grow massively over the next three decades.

As Michael and Roy explain, societal values follow a cyclical pattern that shifts every 40 years from a “Me” based society, which values feeling and looking good now, instant gratification and cares little for long-term consequences to a “We” based society, which values community and working together for the good of the whole. Roy and Michael have 3,000 years of data to back up this theory.

The rumblings of this transition from “Me” values to “We” values have been evident over the past decade. Once successful business models that embraced exceptionalism and fierce competition are failing and going the way of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. These cycles influence the effectiveness of networking, too. In a “We” cycle, the strength of an individual contributes to the strength of the whole. For example, when established professionals partner with newer, “junior” professionals, both of the partners and the consumers each benefit from the relationship—win, win, win. Knowledge and wisdom are shared, and then blended with new ideas and innovation. This increases the value the end user receives from the relationship.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, traditional marketing strategies focus on hype, promises of bigger, better and more and ‘guarantee’ dramatic results with minimum input. Consumers today are tired of these messages, and instead they are drawn to messages of authenticity, transparency and lasting relationships. They want to work with companies and people who deliver on their promises and actually care about those they are doing business with.

What does this mean for you as a member of a networking group? While business schools and economic experts will speculate and deliberate about the causes of the current economic downturn, knowing the current trend of society’s values can help you succeed by doing what you’re already doing–building relationships through networking. The philosophy of Givers Gain® matches the current values of a “We” cycle in society today.

Good networking groups are all about building relationships and working together as a community to help others reach their goals. What goes around comes around in a very real sense. Business networking is an ideal place to capture the power of this concept to help you reach your own goals by helping others reach their own.

Word-of-mouth will heft a heavier punch in the coming years as well. Your customers will listen more attentively to the recommendations of those they know, like and trust. In today’s global market, a word of recommendation can reach others across the globe. So can a heated complaint. Consumers want to see that you walk the walk more than they want to listen to you talk the talk.

Faceless corporations and big businesses are struggling. For many, they’ve lost the personal connection with their audience or customers. As an entrepreneur, there is no need for you to fall by the wayside with failing businesses. By working together in this “We” cycle, you can help build each other up through relationships and referrals, increasing the success and profitability of businesses in your community. These small actions will be far-reaching and may do more to turn this recession around than many other larger-scale efforts

By participating in networking and working to give back to business owners and community, you will be doing your part to create a stronger economy worldwide—and a stronger global economy makes a better world for everyone.

I’ve read Pendulum and I was so impressed with it that I wrote an endorsement for it. This book is a must-read for anyone in a networking organization. I feel so strongly about this that I’ve arranged with Michael for all readers of my blog to get a free copy of the book. [www.penduluminaction.com/bni] All Michael asks is that you cover shipping and handling costs (shipments outside the US are more).

Get your free copy of Michael and Roy’s book today. Read it. Then use the insights they share to keep building relationships in your market, because Givers Gain®—especially in the current “We” cycle. As you give to other businesses through networking, they will give back to you, too—and that is how we all can take part in pulling the economy out of a recession.

What Should You Bring on a Business Trip?

……………………….

This week I am in Bangkok and Hong Kong speaking to business professionals about networking.  When you travel (especially internationally) it is easy to forget something you really need while you are in meetings or speaking to groups of people.  Last month,  I did an interview with an international magazine on this very topic.  The reporter asked me “what should business people think about taking with them on business trips that they might not normally think about?”

First, I had to give the things that may be obvious but that you don’t want to ever forget.  Things like:

  1. Plenty of business cards.  It is never a good idea to run out of business cards while traveling.  Tuck extras in your suit pockets, wallet/purse, briefcase, luggage, etc.  I put stacks in many places to ensure I always have extra.
  2. A badge.  If you do any networking while traveling on business, have your own professional badge.  Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your badge and do it right.
  3. Extra pens.  Make sure you have a pen with you while you are doing meetings.  I always find that I need to write some reminders down while I’m talking to people.  It’s troublesome to track down a pen while you are networking.

Somewhat less obvious things

  1. The contact information (or business cards) of all your referral partners.  I sometimes find that having that information at my fingertips allows me to give referrals to people while I’m out networking.
  2. Hand sanitizer.  I know, I’m sounding a little bit like “Mr. Monk” the germ-a-phobe title character of a television series.  However, I have found that since I’ve started using hand sanitizer after shaking many, many hands, that I have been getting far less colds than I used to get.  Just be tactful about the way you use it.  Don’t desperately spray your hands every time you shake someone’s hands or else you will be acting like Monk.
  3. Breath mints.  As obvious as it may sound – I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them!
  4. A memory stick.  Many times I have either needed to get a copy of something OR give a copy of a file or presentation to people while out networking.  Having a memory stick handy has been very helpful on several occasions.
  5. A camera and/or video.  A camera is great if you want to memorialize some occasion or a meeting with someone important to you.  A video is important for anyone that blogs.  It gives you a chance to interview someone during your travels.  I do this almost every time I travel.
  6. Tools for your business.  For me, that includes many copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak.  Despite the fact that my team sends the bio in advance, there are many times when I arrive and they don’t have the bio handy.  Another tool for me is a PowerPoint remote clicker.  This is really important for me because I don’t want to rely on someone else to move the slides forward as a I present.  Also, that memory stick I mentioned earlier.  I have copies of my talk(s) on there just in case the group I’m speaking to has misplaced my presentation material.

There’s more, but this is a pretty good list.  What do you think is important to bring along with you on business trips?  Share it with us here in the comments section.

Does Business Networking Have a Place in Formal Education?

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., Roger Green asks me about my view on the idea that high cost education doesn’t necessarily prepare students for the real world.

In answering him, I talk about my feelings on where business networking fits into the world of formal education and I share some statistics about the true effectiveness of networking which, to me, are mind boggling; I also tell a personal story about having lunch with the Dean of Business at a prominent university and how his words to me speak volumes about the current position business networking holds in the world of higher learning.

What are your personal feelings on where business networking currently fits into, or currently should fit into, the world of formal education?  Did you study business at the university level?  If so, what was your experience?–Did you receive any education about networking while you were working on your degree(s)?  Please share your thoughts/experiences in the comments section.

No Knight in Shining Armor?

This blog is an excerpt from the book Business Networking and Sex (not what you think)the book I co-authored with Frank De Raffele and Hazel Walker.  Enjoy!

Bill asks Candace out on a date. They have a great time. They then start to date regularly.

Six months later, while driving home from their dinner date Candace says, “Do you realize that tonight is our sixth-month anniversary?” For a few seconds, there is silence in the car and to Candace it seems like deafening silence. She thinks to herself, I wonder if it bothers him that I said that. Maybe he’s been feeling confined by our relationship. Maybe he thinks I’m trying to push him into some kind of obligation that he doesn’t want, or isn’t sure of.

Meanwhile, Bill is thinking, Hmmm, six months.

Candace is percolating away in her head with, But, hey, I’m not so sure I want this kind of relationship, either. Sometimes I wish I had a little more space, so I’d have time to think about whether I really want us to keep going the way we are, moving steadily forward. Where are we going with this thing, anyway? Are we just going to keep seeing each other at this level of intimacy? Are we heading toward marriage? Children? An entire lifetime together? Am I ready for that level of commitment? Do I really even know this person?

At this point Bill is thinking, So that means it was . . . let’s see . . . February when we started going out, which was right after I had the car at the dealer’s, which means . . . lemme check the odometer . . . Whoa! I’m way overdue for an oil change!

Candace is now at the point where she’s thinking, He’s upset. I can see it on his face. Maybe I’m reading this completely wrong. Maybe he wants more from our relationship, more intimacy, more commitment. Maybe he’s sensed it, even before I did, that I had some reservations. Yes, I’ll bet that’s it. That’s why he’s so reluctant to say anything about his own feelings. He’s afraid of being rejected.

Bill is thinking, Yeah, and I’m gonna have them look at the transmission again. I don’t care what those morons say, it’s still not shifting right. And they better not try to blame it on the cold  weather this time. What cold weather? It’s 87 degrees out, and this thing is shifting like a garbage truck, and I paid those incompetent thieves $600.

Candace is thinking, He’s angry. And I don’t blame him. I’d be angry, too. I feel so guilty, putting him through this, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m just not sure.

Bill is thinking, They’ll probably say it’s only a 90-day warranty. That’s exactly what they’re gonna say, the scum.

Candace is thinking, Maybe I’m just too idealistic, waiting for a knight to come riding up on his white horse when I’m sitting right next to a perfectly good person, a person I enjoy being with, truly do care about, and who seems to truly care about me. And now this person is in pain because of my self-centered, schoolgirl romantic fantasy.

Bill is thinking, Warranty? They want a warranty? I’ll give them a warranty. I’ll take their warranty and…

“Bill.” Candace says aloud.

“What?” answers Bill, startled.

“Please don’t torture yourself like this.” she says, her eyes beginning to brim with tears, “Maybe I should never have. . . Oh, I feel so. . .”

She breaks down, sobbing.

“What?” Bill asks, wondering what just happened.

“I’m such a fool.” Candace sobs. “I mean, I know there’s no knight. I really know that. It’s silly. There’s no knight, and there’s no horse.”

“There’s no horse?” says Bill and wonders, What horse?

“You think I’m a fool, don’t you?” Candace asks in self-blaming tone.

“No!” says Bill, thinking, Why should I?

“It’s just that . . . it’s that I . . . I need some time.” Candace says.

Dead silence again. Bill is trying to find what the right answer is here. Finally he comes up with one that he thinks might work.

“Yes,” he says.

Candace feels so touched that she puts her hand on his.

“Oh, Bill, do you really feel that way?” she says.

“What way?” says Bill, thinking, What are we talking about?

“That way about time?” asks Candace.

“Oh.” says Bill. “Yes. Of course.”

Candace turns to face him and gazes deeply into his eyes, causing him to become very nervous about what she might say next, especially if it involves a horse. At last she speaks.

“Thank you, Bill.” she says, lovingly.

“Thank you.” says Bill, thinking, Whew. Got that one right.

Then he drops her off at her house where she lies and weeps on her bed, a conflicted, tortured soul, whereas Bill back at his place opens a bag of Doritos, turns on the TV, and immediately becomes deeply involved in a rerun of a tennis match between two Czechoslovakians he’s never heard of.

A tiny voice in the far recesses of his mind tells him that something major was going on back there in the car, but he’s pretty sure there is no way he would ever understand what, so he figures it’s better if he doesn’t think about it.

Candace calls her closest friend and they talk about this situation for two hours. They analyze everything she said and everything he said, going over it many times, considering every word, expression, and gesture for nuances of meaning, and any possible ramifications. They’ll continue to discuss this subject, off and on, for weeks, maybe even months, never reaching any definite conclusions, but never getting bored with it, either.

Meanwhile, Bill, as he plays plays racquetball one day with a mutual friend of his and Candace’s stops before shooting a basket and says, “Steve, did Candace ever own a horse?”

Does this story have just a little ring of truth to it? It seems that often men and women communicate differently and define relationships differently.  

Do you agree or disagree?  I’d love for you to share an example in the comments section of a situation which has formed your opinion about the ways in which each gender communicates and defines relationships.

The Transformation of Business Networking

In this short video, presented by Applied Transformation, Inc., I talk with Roger Green about how business networking has transformed within the last 25-30 years and about how my 1993 doctoral dissertation on business networking was the first of its kind.

What are your thoughts on how business networking has transformed?  What changes have you personally experienced/noticed in the networking world from the time you started on your networking journey up to this point?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Business Networking and Sex: Survey Says . . . Networking Skills

In this short video, I discuss the five ways people learn to network, based on the results of the worldwide survey on which Business Networking and Sex is based.  The results clearly show that there is a vast difference between how men and women learn to network.

As I say at the end of the video . . . to all the men out there, please don’t shoot the messenger.  The survey data is what the survey data is. 😉

Behind the Scenes of the “Today” Show

Many of you know that I was on the Today show a couple of weeks ago to talk with Kathie Lee and Hoda about my new book, Business Networking and Sex (not what you think).  Some of you might like to hear the “real” dirt on what Hoda and Kathie Lee are like off camera.

Ready for it??  It’s really juicy!  Here it comes . . . they are fun and professional.  OK . . . maybe that’s not juicy but it’s the truth.

Both women were very friendly and welcoming to me before the interview started.  In the few minutes we had during the break, they engaged with me and asked questions.  They also talked a lot about Hoda’s Mardi Gras beads and, well . . . that conversation I really can’t repeat here.  Let’s just say that my contribution to that topic started and ended with me making one comment: “Ummm . .  I’m not sure I know how to participate in this conversation.”  To that, everyone laughed and I was off the hook–PHEW!

The “Today” show is a really well-oiled machine that operates like a media factory.  Yet, at the same time almost everyone was very friendly and professional (starting with Gil, the producer, and going all the way through the sound crew in the studio).  It’s hard to visualize just how many people are running through the studio facilities in the morning – trust me, it’s a lot.  People are lined up, ready to go in both the makeup room (yeah, yeah, – they put make-up on me) and the Green Room (where people wait just prior to going on camera).

You may note that I was on air with Nicole Williams.  A lot of people have asked me about Nicole and why she was part of the interview with me.  Well, I’m not sure if it is true, but I’ve been told that since this was my first BIG national TV show, producers sometimes worry about someone one “freezing” on live television with the hosts (what can I say, they don’t know me well) so they sometimes bring in another person to give a different angle, add color commentary, and be there to ‘catch the guest’ if they fall, so to speak.

Nicole is an author and expert in her own right (having written the book: Girl on Top – about career success for women).  However, Nicole told me before we went on that this interview was about my book and that she was there to support that and not take over the interview.  I must say she did just that and was a real professional in the process (thanks Nicole, I see why they make a habit of bringing you back on the show to support other guests).

What we all see on the TV screen is very similar to what I saw off camera – except that there is an incredible whirlwind of activity that takes place with moving people and props from one area to another in between segments.

I have to say that it was truly a great experience and a lot of fun.  Showing gratitude is an important part of networking.  So, let me do that here…  I’m grateful to my publicist, Sara Jennings for having lined this up, to my co-authors Frank De Raffele and Hazel Walker for writing Business Networking and Sex with me so I had such solid, cutting-edge content to talk about on the show (I’m also grateful to Frank for being there at the show for moral support), to Gil (the producer) for believing in the topic (and that I’d be a pretty good guest), and of course to Kathie Lee, Hoda, and Nicole for doing–what I felt–was a great interview in four minutes.  Thank you all!

 

 

 

This is International Networking Week

What are you doing for International Networking Week?

2012 marks the 6th annual celebration of International Networking Week which is now recognized by many countries across the globe, with thousands of events being held during the celebratory Week. One of the main goals of the Week is to help businesspeople everywhere build their networking skills and expand the opportunities within their reach and, in the video, my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I offer some very valuable pointers on where to focus your efforts in order to make the most of International Networking Week.

This short, 9-minute video, sponsored by Referral Institute (www.ReferralInstitute.com) and Entrepreneur Press (www.Entrepreneur.com), explains how the week of February 6th-10th, 2012 will bring about great opportunities for businesspeople around the world and increase worldwide awareness about the powerful benefits of business networking.

For additional Information, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.  This is a great time to invite your friends and associates to a network you belong to.

Tell me, what will you do this week to help your networking efforts?

When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower?

I start this blog with a riddle: When does going faster, make things slower?  Well the answer is: when you are rushing a relationship.

A few years ago a close friend of mine, Dr. Emory Cowan, contributed an article for my book Masters of Networking.  I’m sharing his contribution in my blog today because I think it is a great concept to think about as we start the new year.

Building a word-of-mouth marketing plan requires developing a trusted network of partners — which means cultivating relationships. But relationships require time, energy, persistence, and, most of all, patience.

I believe that patience gives us the most difficulty. We live in a quick-fix, immediate-gratification society where patience is neither valued nor encouraged. We want our sales now, our business fully grown now, our satisfaction in wealth now. But when I grow impatient with the tedious process of developing relationships, one of life’s many humbling lessons comes back to remind and instruct me: Drink no wine before its time.

Many years ago, I bought some peaches at the farmers’ market in Atlanta. They were the famous Georgia peaches, grown in orchards in the Fort Valley region and renowned for their sweet, juicy taste and wonderful aroma. I took them home, visions of peach pies and cobblers dancing in my head. We ate some right away; most sat out on the kitchen counter.

One morning I was awakened by the aroma of peaches filling the house. I knew that something would have to be done with them soon or they would spoil. Wine, I thought. Why not make some peach wine? I knew my parents, who lived fifteen miles away, had an old ceramic crock and an old family recipe for fermenting wine from fruit. I found the crock, cleaned it, and, on the way home, bought cheesecloth for the top, along with yeast and sugar for the ingredients.

By the time I got home, my excitement over this project was so great that I could almost taste new wine as I cut up the peaches, added the sugar and yeast, and closed the top with the cheesecloth. But the process of making wine is slow, and I was impatient. With the crock safely stashed in the cool basement, I drove home from work each day with growing excitement. I would go immediately to the crock and smell the brew. As the days went by I became more intent on having the wine ready for consumption. But it was not happening fast enough for me.

So, one afternoon, frustrated that it was taking so long, I carried the crock to the kitchen, determined to speed up the process of fermentation. I removed the contents, used a blender to further emulsify the peaches, and added more sugar and yeast. Smug and satisfied, I returned the crock to the basement, and three days later I had — vinegar!

My vinegar-making triumph has become a life-shaping parable for me. When I am tempted to rush the process of forming relationships, whether in business, in a networking group, or in my personal life, I am reminded that some things just take time to happen. I am aware that letting my impatience force the process can turn the potential of new wine into vinegar.

Patience in developing relationships is a virtue. It leads to solid networked contacts who can help you with your business, your interests, and your life.

This is a powerful lesson for us all to consider for life and for networking.  Good wine and great relationships both take time.

What are your thoughts about this story?  Have there ever been times where you tried to rush a relationship and had a bad result?  Share your story here with us here.

 

Business Networking And Sex (not what you think)

Business Networking and Sex (not what you think) is officially released this week in bookstores.  This book was more fun to work on than any book I’ve ever written.  My co-authors: Frank De Raffele and Hazel Walker were fantastic to work with.

You may be wondering what sex has to do with networking.  You may also be excited to learn how to use your sexual prowess to influence business deals.  Well, get your mind out of the gutter!  Sorry to burst your bubble, but this book is really more about gender than sex, but who’s going to want a book called Business Networking and Gender (do you hear the crickets chirping)?  Not many people walk around thinking about gender, but many people think many times a day about well, you know.

The book is based on the findings from a survey that we conducted.  Over a four-year period, more than 12,000 businesspeople from every populated continent of the world participated in a study focused around 25 simple questions.  Beyond irritating you, the answers may also make you excited and motivated to learn how to work with the opposite sex.

So, pick up a copy of the book – if you dare.  But be WARNED.  It might make you angry.  Oh, and there’s some statistics too.

If you would like a sample chapter or would like more information, go to www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com If you have an advance copy of the book – tell me what you like most about it.  What surprised you?  What annoyed you?

 

 

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