The 3 Keys to Creating a Knockout Networking Strategy

Whether you’re just starting out in the world of networking or you’re a well seasoned networker, there’s one thing you should never go to a networking function without . . . strategy.  In order to be a successful networker, you need to have a plan.  For example, you need to know who your target market is and which networking events will offer the best opportunities to effectively connect with your target market.

So, how do you create a plan when you’re a time-strapped businessperson and you don’t even know where to begin?  Well, you’re in luck–it’s a lot simpler than you think because the starting point is right in front of you.  All you need to do is take three minutes to watch this quick video and I’ll pinpoint the three questions you need to ask yourself in order to develop a highly effective networking strategy specifically tailored for you and your business.

Networking works.  It’s just a matter of crafting a plan that will put you in contact with the right people.  Once you ask yourself the questions in this video and nail down the answers, you’ll be well on your way to networking smarter for maximum results.

This video comes from the educational video archive housed within NetworkingNow.com and it is just one example of the vast array of educational content offered on the NetworkingNow.com website—there are literally hundreds of business and networking downloads available in the site’s online library and you can access all of them for FREE for six months by entering the free subscription code given below.

The free subscription is a gift from BusinessNetworking.com and all you have to do is enter the code(“freesixmonths”) on NetworkingNow.com to gain access to the entire library of content!  Please note that you will be required to enter a credit card number on the site but you will not be billed for the free six month membership.  You will need to end your subscription if you don’t wish to be billed for the second six months.

Please leave a comment regarding your thoughts on this video and also letting me know what type of downloadable content you most like to access on sites like NetworkingNow.com:

  • Video?
  • Audio?
  • PDF Articles?
  • Digital Books?
  • Something Else? If so, what specifically?

Got Business Goals?–Connect with Those Who Can Help You!

Last week I posted a blog on how to meet the right people and I focused on explaining how to meet people who serve the same professional client as you.  Today, I’d like to continue this discussion but I’d like to focus specifically on how to meet people who can help you meet your business goals.

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Witthaya Phonsawat / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

First off, if you haven’t set business goals then let’s stop right here–you need to make that your top priority this week!  If you do have business goals, don’t let them collect dust on your bulletin board or get covered up in your drawer.  Make it a point to review them each month.  Choose a goal.  The big question you need to ask yourself is “Who do I need to meet to help me accomplish this goal?”

It’s tough to make it alone in today’s competitive business environment.  Even the biggest sports stars or governmental candidates can’t reach their goals alone–so why should we try to go it alone?  Let’s say that one of your business goals this year is to write an article for a local paper.  How would you network your way to achieving that goal?  Well, first, you would start reading the paper.  You’d find out who writes the articles, who writes for other papers in your area, who the editors are, etc.  Then you would get the word out to your own network as there’s a fair chance it includes someone who could put you in contact with the right individual.  You would let it be known that you wanted to meet writers, editors, and others working for local papers so you could gain insight and knowledge into how they accomplished something you were aspiring to do–you would also let it be known that you were in no way intending to try to sell to these people.

You would also look for networking events sponsored by these publications.  You’d probably find staff members there providing support and you’d want to focus on meeting and speaking with the right people–professionals connected with the publication–again, with the intention of learning how to write an article for your local business paper.  No matter what your goal is, writing and publishing an article or otherwise, if you network with the people who have the experience and connections to guide you toward your goal, you will be well on your way to accomplishing it.

Another example of this strategy is to think of the people involved in the six degrees of separation study.  They had a goal to achieve . . . to get a package to a specific person whom they did not know.  I would venture to suspect that the successful people in the study began by scouring their network for the right people who could help them accomplish this goal.  Choosing anyone and everyone would have increased the links along the way . . . which was obviously the strategy of the 71% of the people who never connected at all.

In summary, remember:  When you’re considering asking someone in your personal network for a favor, ask yourself whether she’s simply a contact or an actual established connection.  Avoid the trap of having unrealistic expectations of your network, such as support that your contacts may feel you don’t deserve.  You have to earn the loyalty and engagement of your referral sources.  Your current goal has two parts: (1) to meet the right people, and (2) to develop deep relationships with them over time.

So, to help you pinpoint who you should be focusing on meeting the next time you’re at a networking event, make a list of the following:

  • 5 professions (other than your own) that serve your preferred client market
  • 2 business goals of yours
  • 2 individuals you might seek out for help in accomplishing goal #1 and 2 individuals who might help you meet goal #2

How do you feel about the list you came up with?  Do you find it helpful?  Does it give you a clearer picture of where you want your business to go and who you should focus on meeting in order to steer your business in that direction?  I’d love to get your feedback on this so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Did You Know That Simply Making People Feel Welcome Can Grow Your Network?

I made this video with Australian networking master Paul Lomas back in 2012 and the ideas Paul shares in it are so important and timeless that I think it’s time to give this video some additional airplay.

Paul’s ideas about the simple act of making people feel welcome when they arrive at networking meetings and events are remarkably powerful. He also gives a very useful tip on how to give a great response when someone asks how you are doing in order to create an opportunity for positive, genuine connections.

The video emphasizes the importance of the visitor’s experience to a networking group and how it can very significantly shape their choice regarding whether or not to return to that group.  Sometimes it can be much too easy to get comfortable in networking groups and neglect visitors.  For that reason, I urge you to watch this short video because it’s a great reminder of just how important it is to genuinely make visitors welcome in order to grow your network and make your networking group as successful as it can possibly be.

Do you have any good tips or stories about how you or others in your networking group make others feel welcome?  Please share them in the comments forum so others can learn from your tactics for successfully meeting, greeting, and making visitors feel at home.  Thanks! 

 

Welcome to International Networking Week®!

This week marks the 8th annual celebration of International Networking Week® which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe.  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach.  If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb 3-7).

CLICK HERE to view a short video about International Networking Week 2014.  Please feel free to share the video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Please share your plans in the comment forum below–thanks!

Think “That Online Networking Stuff” Is Just for “Young People”?–Think Again . . .

Many of my video blogs of late, including this one, focus on topics that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be focusing on in our upcoming book about networking.  I’m posting these videos to share my own thoughts and stories about different networking topics because Jack, Gautam, and I are looking for personal story submissions from networkers across the globe and these videos give examples of the kind of stories we’re looking for.

In this particular video, I talk about different aspects of online networking in relation to face-to-face networking.  It seems that younger networkers (mostly those belonging to the millennial generation) are often all about online networking and don’t see the point in face-to-face; whereas networkers from the older generations tend to be completely on board with face-to-face networking but see online efforts as a fad or a waste of time.  One of the things I emphasize in this video, however, is that networkers today should never take an “either” face-to-face “or” online networking stance–instead, for maximum results and increased opportunity, they should take a “both/and” stance, integrating each type of networking into their overall referral marketing strategy.

If you have a story similar to the one  I share in the video about making powerful connections online, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming networking book which I mention above.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Hyper-Active Visibility Is Not a Good Thing!

Years ago, I met a woman who was known as the consummate networker – she had hundreds (if not thousands) of contacts, giving her a wide-ranging network made up of people from all walks of life.  She was well-known as the go-to person if anyone needed anything.  Then, one day during a conversation she and I were having, she dropped a bombshell . . . she said that her networking efforts weren’t really paying off for her.  She went on at some length about all the groups she went to, all the people she met, and how she had made all these contacts and was continuing to make more all the time but wasn’t actually getting any solid business from her efforts.

Why wasn’t she seeing real results?  Because despite her great talent for making contacts and gaining visibility, she was never really getting to the heart of what networking is about–building relationships.  She was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t ever learning how to actually “work” the networks she had built in order to build deep relationships with people and develop credibility with them.

It’s true that she was visible in the community–very visible, actually.  The problem was that she viewed “activity” as an “accomplishment” when it came to her networking efforts.  Her network was a mile wide but only an inch deep.  She had not taken the next, and most important, networking step with the many, many people in her wide-reaching network–she never devoted the time to developing the kind of rapport with any of them that would allow them really get to know her, like her, trust her, and want to pass her business.

I bring this up because I just recently saw the same thing with someone I’ve known for a few years.  He made a consistent habit of going to every single networking meeting/event he could go to and he was incredibly visible.   Not only was he always at networking meetings but he was always full of energy and enthusiasm from the time he arrived to the time he left.  Again, the problem was in no way due to a lack of activity, effort or enthusiasm in regard to putting himself out there and meeting new people; the problem was that he was running around so much that he never stopped long enough to spend the time necessary to establish the kind of long-term roots that lead to an ongoing, reciprocal referral relationship.

If your goal is to significantly grow your business, networking with your main focus being solely to make as many contacts as possible will not help you achieve your aim.  If you’re networking in this way, you’re also guaranteed to get burned out on networking because constantly being on the go and trying to keep track of hundreds of people who you don’t really know is exhausting.  There needs to be a balance between the visibility-creating aspect of your networking efforts and the credibility-creating aspects of your networking efforts.

What are your thoughts on the ideal networking focus/approach?  What do you feel your main networking focus is currently?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and, also, if you know someone with the type of  hyper-visibility networking style I describe in this blog, please share what you’ve observed as far as their networking technique and how you think it has worked out for them.  Thanks!

 

Speak to Be Heard and Hear to Know How to Speak

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  This is so true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications; and when it comes to sales for your business and growing your business through referral marketing, this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Of course, not all sales transactions require incredible relationships or communication (e.g., online shopping), yet even big box stores like Wal-Mart–not known for warm customer relations–illustrate the value they place on communication and relationships by employing a visitor host to greet customers at the entrance of their stores.

Sara Minnis, a friend of mine, has often dealt with a phobia many sales people face within the sales process by coaching salespeople who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer.  She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or on a phone conversation.”  This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer.  She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.”  To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs her communication toward finding a fit between her product and the buyer’s need.  Focusing on being liked only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Sellers in strong relationships with their clients have a competitive advantage because the client feels connected or bonded to the seller.  The single most important tool sellers use to establish a connecting bond with another person is communication.  In fact, building a bonded relationship is completely dependent on having quality communications with another individual.

The art and science of communication is more than talking and hearing words.  There are many strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard.  If you can communicate at a level that matches the customer’s style rather than your own, you will be well on your way to masterful sales conversations.

Masters of sales today assume more of a consultative perspective to their selling work.  In fact, many box retail stores use the term “sales consultant” to describe the store clerk of yesterday.  Master sales consultants know that their ability to communicate is critical to selling client solutions, because rapport and trust, the cornerstones of selling, are built or lost based on communication.

So what can you do this week to improve your communication skills in order to speak to be heard and hear to know how to speak (e.g., joining a Toastmasters club, reading books like Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment forum below

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!

Grow Your Network by Making People Feel Welcome

In this brief video, Australian networking master Paul Lomas shares some ideas with me about making people feel welcome when they arrive at networking meetings and events. He also gives a very useful tip on how to give a great response when someone asks how you are doing in order to create an opportunity for positive, genuine connections.

The video emphasizes the importance of the visitor’s experience to a networking group and how it can very significantly shape their choice regarding whether or not to return to that group.  Sometimes it can be much too easy to get comfortable in networking groups and neglect visitors.  For that reason, I urge you to watch this short video because it’s a great reminder of just how important it is to genuinely make visitors welcome in order to grow your network and make your networking group as successful as it can possibly be.

Do you have any good tips or stories about how you or others in your networking group make others feel welcome?  Please share them in the comments forum so others can learn from your tactics for successfully meeting, greeting, and making visitors feel at home.

Is Your Path to Success Ignited by an Emotionally Charged Connection?

In this video, I talk with my good friend and partner in the Referral Institute, Eddie Esposito, about a very interesting concept he helped develop which I’ve never before mentioned on this blog site–Emotionally Charged Connection.

Many people are not conscious of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it’s the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the check book or the head–there’s a big difference.  Once you become conscious of this Connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply five important elements of success which we talk about in the video: Vision, Mission, Goals, Strategy, and Action.

After watching the video, if you’d like to learn more about ways to develop your emotionally charged connection with your prospective clients, go to www.ReferralInstitute.com and locate a franchise in your local area or call the Referral Institute main line and they will be happy to direct you to where you can get more information.

Women Are the New Men

 

I was recently interviewed by Bill Moller on the “First Business” news show about men and women in business. 

The host said that “women are the new men.”  It’s an odd statement, I know, but I promise that if you take a mere three minutes out of your day to watch this video clip of the interview, you’ll understand what he means by this and you might not think it’s such an odd statement after all.

I came to the conclusions I talk about in this interview based on many recent statistics and findings by esteemed business publications and I think it’s a really interesting and noteworthy topic.  What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree? Disagree? . . . I’d love to hear your input so, by all means, please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Getting to the Referral Stage with a New Contact

People often ask me how to move a relationship with someone they just met to the point where the new contact feels comfortable passing them a referral.

I always say that the best way to get to this next referral-passing stage depends in part on how you came into contact with a person in the first place.  Let’s say you met while giving a brief presentation to a group of people who are in your target market.  Assuming you did a good job, then you absolutely have the possibility of receiving a referral, even though you just met.  Why? Because the presentation moved you from visibility to credibility in the new contact’s mind and now they’re probably willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to someone they know.

The same thing is true when you’re out networking.  If you have a good conversation with someone and truly add value to the conversation, then moving from visibility to credibility isn’t that difficult, and you’ll be in great shape for getting some referral-based business.  What’s more, it’s not terribly important whether the person is someone you might do business with directly.  Even if your businesses don’t match up, the other person might have information that’s useful or might know other people you’d like to get in contact with.  It’s often worthwhile to develop a networking relationship with people who have little in common with you because they can bring an entirely new network into contact with yours and broaden your business horizons.

Just bear in mind that even if there is a strong possibility that you’re going to do business with this new contact, it’s probably not going to happen there at the networking event, where conversations last anywhere from an eye-blink three minutes to a long-winded seven.  Instant business is not likely to be had.  But if you follow up with a quick note a few days later, you can make some one-to-one time and come up with ways the two of you can help each other.  That meeting is where you’ll have your best opportunity for a quick referral.

What has your experience been with moving to the referral stage with new contacts–do you have a tactic that seems to be particularly effective?  If so, please share it in the comments section.

 

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