Always Carry an Umbrella

International Networking Week: Follow-up tips from various international BNI leaders

Submitted by Charlie Lawson
National Director BNI UK & Ireland

Let me tell you a story about one of the first networking events I ever went to.  It was a Chamber of Commerce meeting in Greenwich in South East London, and I remember that day because it was absolutely pouring with rain.

I thought the event had been a success.  I’d met some interesting people, and collected a bunch of business cards. Before going back to the office, I thought I’d just sit down in the car, go through the cards, and work out how best to follow up with each one.

As I left the event, I stepped into the rain.  Not having an umbrella with me, I had to run as fast as I could to my car.  Despite only being in the rain for less than a minute, I was soaked through by the time I opened my car door, such that temporarily, I completely forgot about the stack of business cards in my pocket, and absentmindedly, started the car and drove back to my office.

Half way back, cursing that I’d forgotten to look through the cards, I resolved that once I got there, I’d start my follow up then.  I put the pile of business cards on my desk, right next to the phone, ready for action.

But… then the world took over. The phone went, emails needed dealing with, people interrupted me – and suddenly, before I knew it, it was the end of the day.  What to do? I left the cards, prominently on the desk, ready to start my follow up first thing the next morning.

The next morning arrived: I looked at the pile of cards again, and thought to myself ‘I must follow up with those contacts today it’s important’.  But then whatever was urgent that day took precedence, and the cards didn’t get looked at.

A day or two later, I started to feel a bit guilty about not calling the relevant people, so I moved the cards to the special place on my desk for important matters: the top drawer.  There, forgotten about, they stayed until I cleared out my desk some months later.

So, what can we learn from this?  Well, firstly I’d like to think that I’ve learned a lot about follow up since then!   But here’s two quick tips to help you follow up better than I did:

1) Use a Memory Jogger

I don’t know about you, but I have a memory like a sieve.  Even if you’ve got a good memory, when you go to a networking event and meet 10 people, it isn’t easy to remember 10 different pieces of follow-up action. There’s a very simple solution.  When you are chatting to someone, as soon as you’ve agreed whatever follow-up is required, ask for their business card and make a brief note on it.

Incidentally, I always ask the person’s permission to write on their card.  In some cultures, this is really important and it is a habit that I’ve got into.  For most people, it is a non-issue, but for some, you can tell by the look on their face that they appreciated being asked.  It’s just a small step in the relationship building process…

2) When should follow up start?

The rain that day in Greenwich didn’t help with my follow-up, but it did teach me a valuable lesson.

I always start my follow up as soon as I leave the event I’m at.  This may be in my car before I drive away, or when I get back to the office before I switch my laptop on.  I may even find a quiet corner of the room where the event is on.

Whichever it is, just taking a quick look through the stack of business cards with notes on makes such a difference to remembering what needs to happen.

I divide the cards into two piles: one for cards needing action, and the other for those cards that have been forced upon me at the event!

Aside from ensuring you’ve always got your umbrella with you, what do you do to make sure you complete your networking follow up?

International Networking Week 2017

Classic Video: One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networking

I have been doing video blogs for quite a few years now and a while back it occurred to me that some of the videos I’ve previously posted focus on timeless topics that deserve to be revisited and not buried way back in the video blog archive.  For this reason, I decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the sixth one–”One Simple Rule to a Winning Approach at Netwoking.” In this video, I talk to UK networking expert Charlie Lawson about the Networking Disconnect which commonly hinders the success of many who attend networking events and mixers.

Charlie explains that the Disconnect can be avoided all together by following one simple rule that will get your networking approach and intent geared in the right direction.  I’ll give you a hint–it involves big fish and coffee. 😉

After watching the video, come back and comment about your experience(s) with the Networking Disconnect (trust me, we’ve all had some experience with it) and what you think about the advice Charlie offers in the video . . . looking forward to hearing from you!

Trust

Build Trust to Be More Effective

In this video, I speak with Charlie Lawson, networking expert and National Director of BNI® UK & Ireland, to talk about why networking isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme and how, quite to the contrary, it involves building long-term relationships based on trust.

The thing is, networking is more about farming than hunting.  In other words, instead of voraciously chasing people to gain business, you must nurture relationships in order to build trust.  Trust is what makes networks work. When trust is high among members of a network, there’s a wonderful cohesiveness and capacity to help one another generate effective referrals to mutually assist each other’s business growth.

However, when trust is low and relationships are plagued by suspicion, networks collapse and no worthy referrals will be given. If someone likes and trusts you, they are much more likely to give you effective referrals which will help generate more business for you.

Essentially, you must cultivate relationships with different business professionals in order to build confidence. If confidence is gained, trust can then come into play. Once you’ve gained trust, you are more likely to generate business through those relationships.

Do you have any specifically effective ways of building trust with the professionals with whom to network?   If so, please share them in the comment forum below.  If not, make it your goal this week to come up with some ways to do so–you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of trusted, long-term relationships to gain!

Networking: Men, Women, and Diversity

Charlie&Ivan-MvWIN

 

In this video (click on the graphic above to access the video), I speak with Charlie Lawson, networking expert and National Director of BNI® UK & Ireland, to unfold the differences between men and women in networking.  While men tend to be more transactional in the way they network, women are more relational and understanding these differences can really be an advantage when it comes to achieving success from your networking efforts.

During a survey of 12,000 people, it was found that those who are more relational gain more business and are overall more proficient networkers.  However, just because women are more likely to generate new business through referrals, this doesn’t mean that only they should have a place in networking groups.  In order to have the most successful networking group possible, there needs to be a great amount of diversity.  It’s ideal to have a blend of different people because that diversity is an important aspect of successful networking.

The more diverse a group is, the more connected it becomes.  When networking groups become more connected, deeper relationships are formed, ultimately leading to more referrals and greater success.

Do you or your networking group have any good tactics for seeking out a diverse array of professionals with whom to network?   If so, please share them in the comment forum below.  If not, make it your goal this week to come up with some ways to do so–you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of untapped potential for new referrals to gain! 

Making Business Personal Is Sometimes a Very Good Thing

In this short video, business networking expert Charlie Lawson demonstrates how powerful storytelling can be in relation to networking for your business and he does it by none other than . . . you guessed it . . . telling a story.

The fact is, you can tell someone what you do for a living all day long but chances are, that’s not going to make you stand out.  You need to start relaying true stories about how your products and services have had a significantly positive impact on the way your customers feel and the quality of their lives.

As Charlie says, “The story is what gets us and the more we make our stories about what we do in business personal, the more results we’re going to have.”

Do you have a powerful, standout story about how your products or services have impacted your customers?  If so, I’d really love to hear it–please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

One Simple Rule for a Winning Approach to Networking

In this video, Networking expert Charlie Lawson talks with me about the Networking Disconnect which commonly hinders the success of many who attend networking events and mixers.

Charlie explains that the Disconnect can be avoided all together by following one simple rule that will get your networking approach and intent geared in the right direction.  I’ll give you a hint–it involves big fish and coffee. 😉

After watching the video, come back and comment about your experience(s) with the Networking Disconnect (trust me, we’ve all had some experience with it) and what you think about the advice Charlie offers in the video . . . looking forward to hearing from you!

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