Are you educating your network or just selling to them?

Educating your networking group’s members about the type of referrals you want (and even the names of the individuals with whom you want to meet and develop relationships) is much more important to the success of your networking in a closed contact network than selling to the members. This demands a shift in how you see your networking partners and educating them about your business. They are not the clients! They are, in effect, your sales force! In order for any sales force to get out there and sell you effectively, they have to know who to sell you to and how to sell you.

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How to make the Ordinary, Extraordinary

This is the fourth video in the “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com. In this series, I expand on well-known phrases I’ve used throughout my career.

Success is the uncommon application of common knowledge.

It’s common knowledge within the business company that success in business comes from having passion, systems, goals and vision, social capital and leverage. So if we all have the same idea of what it takes to be successful, why aren’t we all?

Give me three minutes, and I’ll give you the answer.

 

Thin

Are You Spread Too Thin?

“Are You Spread Too Thin?” is the third video in the “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com. In this series, I expand on classic phrases I’ve used over the years.

Do six things a thousand times and NOT a thousand things six times!

But what does that really mean?

  1. Focus on key priorities and making them perfect (or close to it) before moving on to other projects or tasks.
  2. Making your business the best at a few services, not simply OK at several.

Wait, I can’t give it all away! Watch the video below to get the full scope of the idea.

 

 

Is Ignorance on Fire Ever a Good Thing?

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.

 

Never Stop Educating Yourself

ID-10041080I’m a huge believer in the value of continued education. No one is ever at a point where they can stop educating themselves, and if you do stop, you’ll surely fall behind in your field.

We can’t always be enrolled in a higher education course, though, so what is the most logical way to continue educating yourself well into your professional life? While the best way to learn indefinitely depends on your lifestyle, your specific field, and your learning style, here are my three favorite ways to keep on top of new (and old!) developments in business.

Read articles and books. Thought leaders are always writing articles and books about their fields, sharing their perspectives on the ins and outs of their specialties. While these pieces will always have some degree of opinion in them, and you won’t always agree with everything you read, well written articles and books will get you thinking, get you interested, and leave you wanting to do your own follow up research.

Attend conferences. When you attend a conference and you listen to the keynote speaker, if those in charge of organizing the event did their job, the speaker not only taught you a little something, but got you fired up to go out and learn more. Not only is the keynote speaker a great source of continued education at conferences, smaller sessions and even other attendees can help get your gears turning, and teach you something you didn’t know before.

Practice practice practice. You probably haven’t reached the point where you can do anything perfectly every time, and even if you have, going without practice can cause you to lose your skill. How can you get better at something if you don’t do it? What’s more, talk to colleagues, people you respect in your field, or consult the internet for new techniques as you’re practicing. If you keep practicing something the wrong way, you’ll get really good at doing it wrong. If you practice something in new and different ways, you’ll be more likely to round out that skill level.

How do you continue your education? Let me know in the comments below!

educating

Are You Educating or Selling to Your Network?

educatednetworkWhen entrepreneurs try to develop a qualified, consistent, and dynamic circle of networking partners who are going to provide them with referrals for new business, I’ve noticed that their tendency is to “sell” those individuals on their product. When business people join a networking group that’s focus is on providing referrals for its members, it is as if by convincing them to try their product, showing them all the finer points of what is available and closing the sale with their networking partners, they will somehow realize an influx of referrals for more of the same from those individuals.

I don’t disagree that in order for the members of your networking group to refer you effectively, they must be familiar with what you have to offer; however, when you are in front of them, it’s important to resist the urge to sell to the members! What do I mean by that?

Educating your networking group’s members about the type of referrals you want, specifically, where applicable, even the names of the individuals with whom you want to meet and develop relationships, is much more important to the success of your networking in a closed contact network than selling to the members. This demands a shift in how you see your networking partners. They are not the clients! They are, in effect, your sales force! In order for any sales force to get out there and sell you effectively, they have to know who to sell you to and how to sell you.

Below are four tips for incorporating this style of networking—educating vs. selling—into your networking meetings:

1. Teach your network members what your “dream referral” looks like. If you could come to your next networking meeting with a walking, talking dream referral in tow, what would he/she be like? Be very descriptive of this person as you talk to your networking partners, so descriptive that it’s like that person is in the room with you. The more details you provide, the greater the chance that your partners will recognize that person when they come across him/her outside of the meeting!

2. Share customer profiles and case studies of current customers. This is a highly effective way to educate your networking partners about what it is that you are looking for as a new customer/client. By sharing the qualities and aspects of your current clientele, you are illuminating the canvas for the rest of the group so they can see the picture you are portraying for them. When appropriate, consider bringing in a customer or client to talk about how you have helped him/her. These kinds of interactions go a long way toward educating the group as to the type of person you wish to have referred to you.

3. Break your business down into its Lowest Common Denominators. It is very tempting to start out your personal introduction with a statement like: “we are a full-service XYZ…” Resist this urge! When you have 52 opportunities over the course of a year to introduce a new element of what it is that you are selling or providing to the members, don’t waste the opportunity to highlight one aspect of your business by painting with the full-service brush. Get detailed! Educate your networking partners week by week with specific things that you provide. Bring support material to provide a visual. Do demonstrations, when possible.

4. Ask specifically for the referral you want. I often hear members of networking groups say things like “anyone who needs…” or “everyone who is looking for…” Usually, when I hear anyone or everyone, I tune out, because I know so many anyones and everyones, that I end up referring no one! This is an interesting dynamic, but I think it has a lot to do with information overload. When you are asking for a specific type of business referral, your request from your networking partners should be specific! Using a catch phrase that is so broad and generic will limit the effectiveness of the results you will get.

By keeping your focus on educating your networking partners about what type of referrals you wish to receive from them, you will find that the referrals you begin to see come in will be of a higher caliber and have more chances of becoming closed sales than if you try to sell the members on what you are offering. You should be trying to “educate a sales force” instead of trying to “close a sale.” Shift your intention in the group and you will find that the quality of referrals will shift for the better, as well. Keep in mind that when you join a closed contact network, you are partnering with a group of people who will become your sales force and educate, educate, educate. Your time to close the sale will come when you are with the referrals that you will receive.

What go to phrases do you use to educate your network on the products and services you offer? What tactics have you tried that simply don’t work? Let me know in the comments below!

Classic Video: How to Invest Your Time and Money for the Highest Return

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 fifth one–”How to Invest Your Time and Money for the Highest Return.” In this video, I talk about how to invest time and money into your business in the way that will ultimately pay the highest return–education.

Many businesses fail within their first three years of existence because they only pay lip service to education yet aren’t willing to invest the time, effort, and money into learning about how to continually grow and develop in order to achieve the business goals and the vision they outlined for themselves at the start.

The fact is, people who immerse and engage in a culture of learning are much, much more successful than those who don’t. Watch the video now to learn about an action you can take this week that will help you measure whether or not you’re investing enough of your time and money into what will truly help your business earn more and achieve more. 

I’m quite interested in hearing your thoughts on this video, your comments about what you currently do in order to invest in educating yourself to build your business, and also your results from carrying out the action item I explain at the end of the video.  Please leave your feedback regarding any or all of these things in the comment forum belowThanks!

‘More Money Mondays’–FREE Referral Tips to Shorten Your Work Week

At a recent Referral Institute® Conference, I had the opportunity to talk with my good friend (and partner in the Referral Institute), Mike Macedonio, about a fantastic new (and completely FREE) service which is available to businesspeople and networkers across the globe.  It’s called ‘More Money Mondays’ and by signing up for the service you get weekly referral marketing tips delivered to you via e-mail each Monday which will help you learn how to simultaneously build your business and make your work week shorter and more enjoyable.

Watch the video now to get all the details on this exciting new service and CLICK HERE or go to www.MoreMoneyMondays.com to sign up for your FREE weekly referral marketing tips.  If you’re already utilizing ‘More Money Mondays,’ I’d love to hear what you think of the service it provides–please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Classic Video Feature–How to Invest Your Time & Money for the Highest Return

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, just this past JulyI decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the second one–”How to Invest Your Time & Money for the Highest Return.”

In this video, I talk about how to invest time and money into your business in the way that will ultimately pay the highest return–education.

Many businesses fail within their first three years of existence because they only pay lip service to education yet aren’t willing to invest the time, effort, and money into learning about how to continually grow and develop in order to achieve the business goals and the vision they outlined for themselves at the start.

The fact is, people who immerse and engage in a culture of learning are much, much more successful than those who don’t. Watch the video now to learn about an action you can take this week that will help you measure whether or not you’re investing enough of your time and money into what will truly help your business earn more and achieve more. 

I’m quite interested in hearing your thoughts on this video, your comments about what you currently do in order to invest in educating yourself to build your business, and also your results from carrying out the action item I explain at the end of the video.  Please leave your feedback regarding any or all of these things in the comment forum below.

Education Plus Preparation Equals Optimum Results

During a conversation some years ago with Leslie Fiorenzo, a colleague of mine in the networking organization I founded, she made an interesting point of comparison between appreciating opera and learning to use word-of-mouth marketing in your business.  She said, “The best way to experience opera is to see it on the stage, and the best way to use word of mouth is to put a referral marketing plan in place. The novice, in either case, may not know where to begin.”

 

We started talking about a system to generate business by referral and, just like opera, if you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself–preparation is key to success. Central to the referral-marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do–what product or service you provide or make; how, and under what conditions, you provide it; how well you do it; and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors. You absolutely must communicate this information to your sources. And to communicate effectively, you must know the same things. Before business owners map out their referral marketing campaign, they must stop and get a clear picture of where their business currently stands.

Leslie commented that when people begin to learn and study opera, they begin with basic works by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini before moving on to more complex works by composers such as Richard Wagner. In the same way, when marketing your business by word of mouth, there is a place to start before you meet with the people in your network. You begin by preparing answers to some basic questions about yourself and your business like:

1. Why are you in business?
2. What do you sell?
3. Who are your customers and
4. How well do you compete?

The ability to communicate this information to your sources and prospects will be invaluable as you begin to build your network and formulate your plan to gain more and more business the most effective way–through referrals.

Once you master some basic tools, you can move on to a deeper understanding of the process. For example, there are three laws of Notable Networking:

1. Have a positive and supportive attitude, and provide a positive and supportive environment for other business people.
2) Learn how to use networking tools efficiently, including business cards and an informative name badge, and have a business-card case to hold others’ cards.
3) Networking is an acquired skill that requires listening to CDs, reading books/articles, picking the brains of great networkers and practicing what you’ve learned.

One fantastic place to get information about all things related to networking is NetworkingNow.com.  I highly recommend that you become familiar with the basic tools of word-of-mouth marketing and begin to implement them in your business so that you can begin to watch it grow. Because, just like appreciating opera, if you don’t begin with the basics, you won’t experience the optimum result.

If there is an educational resource which you’ve found to be specifically valuable and effective in learning to network, I urge you to share it in the comment forum below so others might utilize it and benefit from it as well.  After you leave a comment, be sure to send a quick e-mail to larry@bni.com with the subject line “Blog Comment” so he can reply to you with a coupon code for a free six-month subscription to NetworkingNow.com.

 

Could You be Making Things Harder Than They Really Are?

In business, there are endless opportunities to learn from the successes and mistakes of others who have ventured into the entrepreneurial waters before us.  So, why is  it that we often ignore the lessons we can learn from others’ mistakes and doom ourselves to making the same bad decisions?  People in business and sales do this all the time.  For example, there are tried-and-true sales techniques that are so simplistic it doesn’t seem as though they can really be effective so we write them off and try to reinvent the wheel.

Many times, we try to re-evaluate, improve upon, and complicate these simple yet proven techniques and all we’re really succeeding in doing is making things harder than they really are!  One of the biggest mistakes that people in business (and especially in sales) make is not listening to the people who have experience.  For some reason, they assume that they have to know better . . . and the truth is, they don’t.  There is nothing like experience–it beats education every day of the week.  The only thing better is a combination of education and experience . . . or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience.

There are many basic sales techniques that any good salesperson knows to be effective.  They don’t look for something more complicated or involved because they know from their own experience, as well as from the experience of others, what works in sales and what doesn’t work in sales.  If you’ve read my book, Masters of Sales, you may have read things that seemed to simple to be effective or you may have seen ideas that you’ve heard before.  The fact is, instead of being dismissed, these tactics and ideas should be embraced.  True Masters of Sales learn from other people’s success and remember that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

Is there a simple lesson you learned from another business owner/entrepreneur which has helped you achieve success in your business?  I’d love to get a conversation going about this in order to share simple tactics for success and important lessons learned so we can all lessen our risk of making things harder than they really are.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

How to Invest Your Time & Money for the Highest Return

In this video, I talk about how to invest time and money into your business in the way that will ultimately pay the highest return–education.

Many businesses fail within their first three years of existence because they only pay lip service to education yet aren’t willing to invest the time, effort, and money into learning about how to continually grow and develop in order to achieve the business goals and the vision they outlined for themselves at the start.

The fact is, people who immerse and engage in a culture of learning are much, much more successful than those who don’t. Watch the video now to learn about an action you can take this week that will help you measure whether or not you’re investing enough of your time and money into what will truly help your business earn more and achieve more. 

BobGrowthGraphI’m quite interested in hearing your thoughts on this video, your comments about what you currently do in order to invest in educating yourself to build your business, and also your results from carrying out the action item I explain at the end of the video.  Please leave your feedback regarding any or all of these things in the comment forum below, and for the first ten people who add to their comment where Bob makes his cameo appearance (and get the answer right) during the video, I’ll send them a surprise gift that will most definitely help them invest in their networking education!  (Note: To ensure you receive your gift, please e-mail your name and complete mailing address to erin@bni.com with the subject line “Bob.”)  I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

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