Follow up Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
five ways to better networking

Five Ways To Better Networking

Last year, I gathered almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world.   I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see in a great networker.  From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed the five ways to better networking in this video.

Good Listener.

At the top of the list is being a good listener.  Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately.  Listen to people’s needs and concerns and find opportunities to help them.  You can’t help others if you don’t know what they need, and you find that out by listening. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots but to do that you have to listen so that you can help people make the connections they are looking for.

Positive attitude.

The first thing that people see from you is your attitude, how you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets.  Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them.

Helps Others/Collaborative.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Helping people shows that you care.  One survey respondent said that “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.”  Helping others can be done in a variety of ways. For example, clip a helpful article and email it to someone. Furthermore, put them in touch with a person who can help them with a specific challenge.  Several respondents commented about not wanting to network with people who are “in it for themselves.” A willingness to collaborate and help others is essential. It builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.

Sincere/Authentic.

You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it!  Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn.  One respondent stated that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you.  We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity.  Faking it isn’t sustainable.

Follows Up.

If you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person.  One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”

Click here to watch the video

stay in touch

Seven Strategies to Stay in Touch

People often ask me, “how can I get back in touch with people or stay in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”

If you want to connect or reconnect with others, do what is best for you, but go to where these people want to meet with you. So, here are seven strategies that will help you improve in this area — now. If you can’t do them all — do what works for you.

Don’t be a cave dweller. Please watch this video

1. Sort through your list.

You can’t stay in touch with everyone. Who do you want to make sure to stay connected with and why? It could be personal, it could be professional, but create a list that you want to focus on.

2. Use the system they use.

It doesn’t have to be Facebook or LinkedIn — use Pinterest or other programs, Snapchat, What’s App — whatever they use. Each of my children use different systems.  If I want to connect with them — I need to go where they are. For my oldest daughter, it’s texting or a phone call. My second daughter, it’s What’s App or texting. For my son, it’s an online game called Steam. I have some business associates who only reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn. Others are strictly emailed. The key here — is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.

3. Use social media platforms.

Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn or Twitter to your advantage by sharing news and reading updates without having to reach out to people on an individual basis. Social media is fantastic. Instead of starting your next call with, “What’s new?” you can jump to, “You cut off your hair!” “You have a new job!” If you need help with this, contact Brian Bentzen, my social media coordinator.

4. From time to time, use snail mail.

Yes, OMG, send a letter or a card.  It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.

5. Skype or other instant message systems.

I’m not a big fan but — it’s not about me, it’s about the other person. What are they using? I see many people using messaging systems online? If you want to stay connected, connect where they are.

6. Periodic phone calls.

I know, crazy idea, actually talk to people. Your smartphone has a green button — use it. If appropriate, set up regular calls. My wife and her sister have done that for many years.

7. Face to face.

Don’t be a “cave dweller.” Nothing beats actually meeting someone face to face and having a conversation. You have to eat breakfast and lunch every day, so why not do this a few times a week with a good referral partner? You can kill two birds with one stone by strategizing with your referral partner about how to help each other over a meal.

Benign neglect is a horrible thing when it comes to building social capital.  Start today to stay in touch. Pick a few of the techniques I listed above and “touch” someone. You have to start by making a commitment to improving in this area. If you haven’t been good at this in the past, start to focus on improving today. I would love to hear any more that you might have. Do you have a strategy to add? Or an example of how you use one of the seven? Share it in the comments.

Not Following Up

Not Following Up

Do you know one of the biggest mistakes you can do when networking?  It’s when you give a networking partner a referral and they do not follow-up on it. This drives me crazy and is so frustrating because it is so easily preventable.
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If you are not following up when your referral partners call you or you are not following up on the referrals you are giving to others, you’re not just losing business, you’re also losing your credibility. That is something which is extremely difficult to earn back once lost.  So why not take time today to follow-up with someone. If you make following up your number one networking priority this year, I guarantee it will pay off in big ways.
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Most businesspeople love working with someone who is considerate, and your follow-up etiquette is an easy way to show just how considerate you can be. Your follow up technique can leave a lasting impression on someone who may not have thought you were memorable at first. Remember, thoughtfulness always counts in the end.
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Have you had an experience where you gave a referral to someone and they didn’t follow up on it?  If so, will you continue to give that person referrals?  Or, have you dropped the ball on following up on a referral before?  If the answer to either question is yes, did you learn a lesson from it?  Please share your experiences in the comments below.  Thanks!

Five Easy Ways You May be Networking Wrong

wrongnetworkingNo matter how much practice you have networking, there are always ways that you can improve. I’ve noticed a few common mistakes with networking that you can easily fix to get the most out of your relationships.

 

1 – You’re showing up late to a networking event, meeting or one-to-one.

This should be a no-brainer, but so often someone will slip into the back of a meeting five, ten or thirty minutes after it has started. How many times have you gotten a text from someone saying they were running late? Or, worse, not gotten a text at all? Such a minor issue can leave long-lasting negative ramifications in your personal and professional relationship. Avoid it, and leave to your meetings or events aiming to arrive early.

 

2 – You’re giving the appearance of untrustworthiness.

No matter what anyone says, your outward appearance can and will affect how you are perceived by potential business connections. If your first impression of someone involves their messed up hair, wrinkled pants, and an overall disheveled look, you’re not going to want to do business with them. That being said, would you expect someone to work with you if that was their first impression? Get your act together, iron your shirt, and always be prepared with your name tag and smile.

 

3 – You’re not making meaningful connections.

A referral-based relationship is more than just, “I do business, you do business, let’s do business together.” It is important to establish real relationships with your connections to encourage a long-lasting, prosperous relationship. If you’re only talking shop, you’re selling yourself short.

 

4 – You’re only thinking about your own gain.

You simply cannot expect to get anything out of a referral relationship if all you care about is getting something for yourself. Your connections will be more likely to give you business if you show your willingness to help them. Learn to use the law of reciprocity, and see your networking efforts become prosperous.

 

5 – You’re forgetting the follow up.

Most businesspeople love working with someone who is considerate, and your follow up etiquette is an easy way to show just how considerate you can be. Bonus points, your follow up technique can leave a lasting impression on someone who may have not thought you were memorable. Remember, thoughtfulness always counts in the end.

 

Are you offending any of these networking commandments? Did I forget any cardinal mistakes? Join the discussion in the comment field below.

Thoughtfulness always counts

Many spend their time at a networking event working the room, making meaningful connections with those around them, receiving and handing out business cards. As the event winds down, businesspeople go their separate ways, looking forward to their next event to grow their network.

It’s a nice story, but it really only covers part of your responsibility as a networker. Thoughtful, heartfelt follow up after events continues establishing those connections and makes your networking stronger. Your connections don’t have to be your best friends, but it certainly helps if they think you’re a caring person.

For those wondering, “Am I a thoughtful networker?” here is a quick checklist of three ways to be thoughtful. If you don’t already, try implementing these into your networking route.

 

handwritingSend handwritten cards

Thank you, happy birthday, condolences. There are plenty of excuses to bust out the stationary and send a handwritten card to a colleague or peer instead of an email. What makes this thoughtful? This effort involved. Emails are simple – you sat at your computer, typed a quick message, scanned it for typos and made necessary connections, and hit send. Done. Handwriting a card requires thinking through your message before you write it, and requires your attention to prevent errors. Not only that, but sending requires more than a click of a button.

 

Remember to follow up

Did you close your conversation with someone by saying, “Let me ask so-and-so about that and get back to you”? If you did, actually do it! You might forget that you promised to find out some trivial piece of information for them, but they certainly didn’t. Nothing could be more embarrassing for you than being called out for having forgotten to follow up on something you’d given your word that you would. As networkers, one of our greatest assets is our word – don’t let something as minor as a memory lapse steal yours.

 

Schedule time outside regular networking events to get to know them

This may seem like Networking 101, but it seems to be a frequently forgotten step of networking. Not only is it vital in helping you get to know your business connections (and vice versa), many will be flattered that you are interested in getting to know them better. Not only is this step thoughtful, it is critical if you want your connections to truly help you grow your business. People love to talk about themselves, and the more you learn about the new members of your network, the more they’ll want to know about you in turn.

What does thoughtfulness in networking mean to you? How many of the above steps do you do? What do you think is missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below!

The Number One Way to Totally Fail at Networking

Who spends countless hours networking hoping to fail and see no results from their efforts?  That’s right, no one!  So, it blows my mind that I commonly see people single-handedly sabotaging their success–they guarantee their own failure by failing to follow up with the contacts they make.

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

There’s a story I was once told by one of my employees which perfectly demonstrates this and I’d like to share it with you here . . . (Note: The names in this story have been changed to protect the innocent . . . and the guilty.)

My employee, whom we’ll call Winnifred (since she’d like to remain anonymous and it’s the most unfitting name for her that I can think of . . . well, aside from maybe Gertrude ;-)), was in need of a graphic designer to assist her with the creation of a website for her father’s business. She attended a local networking mixer where she met a graphic designer, “Blake,” who seemed excited about the project and claimed he could accomplish exactly what she needed at a very reasonable price.

They exchanged contact information and connected the next week by phone to discuss the project in further detail. Winnifred was pleased with Blake’s ideas and liked the examples she’d seen of his work. She told him he seemed like the perfect person to help her with the project and that she’d like him to send her a price quote as soon as possible.

A week went by and Winnifred heard nothing from Blake.  When she called him, he said he was working on a quote and gave some lame excuse about being busy. Another week went by and, again, nothing from Blake. Frustrated, but willing to give Blake another chance because she really did like his work, she sent him an e-mail and left him a voicemail saying that she would love to give him her business and was really anxious to hear back from him.

After two weeks went by without hearing back from him, Winnifred found another graphic designer. To this day, Blake has never responded.

Here is what floors me . . . I know for a fact that this guy, “Blake,” is still frequenting local networking mixers (which cost money to attend, by the way) trying to drum up more business. Yet when he had money practically sitting on the table in front of him, he failed to follow through. No matter what his reason was for not getting back to Winnifred–being too busy, too lazy or whatever else–he shouldn’t be out there networking if he can’t follow through on what he claims to be able to deliver. He’s wasting his time (and money) and, more important, he’s wasting other people’s time–which is earning him nothing more than a bad name.

The moral of this story: If you aren’t prepared to follow through, networking is no more than a big waste of time.

If you have a “Blake the Flake” story of your own, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please feel free to share your story in the comments section.

Classic Video Feature–Networking Faux Pas: Not Following Up

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 fourth one–”Networking Faux Pas: Not Following Up”

In this video, I talk about the faux pas which I see happen most out of all the faux pas which can possibly occur in the world of networking.  It also happens to be the faux pas which frustrates me the most (Seriously–it drives me crazy!)–it’s when you give a networking partner a referral and they drop the ball and don’t follow up on it.

Remember, if you aren’t following up when your referral partners call you and/or aren’t following up on the referrals you’re given, you’re not just losing business . . . you’re also losing your credibility and that’s something which is extremely difficult to earn back.  So, for those of us in parts of the world who are currently starting a brand new year, why not make a vow right now to make following up our number one networking priority this year?  I guarantee it will pay off in big ways. 

Have you had an experience where you gave a referral to someone and they didn’t follow up on it?  If so, will you continue to give that person referrals?  Or, have you dropped the ball on following up on a referral before?  If the answer is yes, did you learn a lesson from it?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The Three Step “Follow-up Formula”

Follow-up is one of the most challenging aspects of networking for many networkers and I often get asked the question; “What is a good system for following-up with the people you meet at networking events?”  In my opinion, here is one of the best ways to follow-up – it’s called the 24/7/30 system.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you meet someone at a networking event, drop them a note within the first 24 hours.  It can be a personal handwritten note or an email, just make sure to use whatever approach that you will do consistently.

Within 7 days, connect with them on social media.  Make a connection via LinkedIn or Facebook.  Follow them on Twitter or join them on Google+.  Find ways to connect and engage with them via the social media platform(s) you are most active on.  Do NOT do this as a way to “sell” to them, do it as a way to start to establish a meaningful connection with them.

Within 30 days reach out to them to set up a 1-2-1 meeting.  If you live near each other, meet in person (that is almost always best).  If you are far from one another, set up a meeting via Skype or by phone.  At this meeting find out more about what they do and look for ways to help them in some way.  Don’t make it a “sales call” make it a relationship building opportunity.

If you do the 24/7/30 approach to your follow-up, you will establish a powerful routine that will help you to make your networking efforts meaningful and successful.

Do you do something similar to this?  Share with me here any other suggestions you’ve got and what you think of this approach.

 

Does Your Follow up Leave Something to Be Desired?

It’s no secret that a huge part of a networker’s success is tied to their effectiveness at one thing—following up with the contacts they make.  Networking without following up is—to put it bluntly—nothing more than a waste of time.

So, it makes sense that one of the questions I’m most often asked is about follow up.  No matter what part of the world I’m in, one of the first things people tend to ask is what I believe is the best way to follow up with new networking connections.

In this video, I share my answer to this question and if follow up is something you struggle with, I think you’ll find what I have to say quite reassuring because the most effective way of following up is much simpler than you might think.

Do you have a method of following up which has been particularly effective for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  Also, if you have an interesting story about how you followed up with someone and left a lasting impression on them or remarkable things happened as a result of your follow up, please share your story via www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.comWhen you submit your story, it will be considered for inclusion in an upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Networking Faux Pas: Not Following Up

In this fourth installment of the Networking Faux Pas Series, I talk about the faux pas which I see happen most out of the faux pas topics I’ve discussed thus far.  It also happens to be the faux pas which frustrates me the most (Seriously–it drives me crazy!)–it’s when you give a networking partner a referral and they drop the ball and don’t follow up on it.

Remember, if you aren’t following up when your referral partners call you and/or aren’t following up on the referrals you’re given, you’re not just losing business . . . you’re also losing your credibility and that’s something which is extremely difficult to earn back.

Have you had an experience where you gave a referral to someone and they didn’t follow up on it?  If so, will you continue to give that person referrals?  Or, have you dropped the ball on following up on a referral before?  If the answer is yes, did you learn a lesson from it?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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!

Are You Using Networking Tools Effectively?

The Second Law of Notable Networking: Learn How to Use Networking Tools Effectively
(Click Here to read about the First Law of Notable Networking)

A Notable Networker must have and use the right tools to network skillfully.  All professionals need the tools of their trade to conduct business.  A painter needs a brush, a teacher needs a blackboard, and an administrative professional needs a computer.  To achieve success, networkers need their own tools as well.   Good networkers’ tools include:

  • name tags to identify themselves to others,
  • card holders to carry their business cards, and most important,
  • card files to carry other people’s business cards.

It has been said that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce coined the term “networking.”  Over the years, I’ve gone to many Chamber of Commerce business mixers.  Unfortunately, too many of them seem to practice a passive form of the technique.  However, depending on the chamber, some mixers can be an outstanding way to meet many new people.  At Chamber of Commerce mixers, people from a variety of businesses get together with the idea of meeting one another.

At these meetings, I often encounter people who don’t wear a name tag.  Of those who do, many neglect to put their company name or profession on the badge.  I can’t imagine anyone going to a business meeting and not telling everyone what business he or she is in!  You’ve got to let people know who you are and what business you’re in if you want to reap the full rewards of networking.

I also run into people who don’t have any business cards with them.  Business cards are one of the most inexpensive forms of advertising available and a crucial tool for networking.  They should be well designed and present a professional image.  Most important, you need to have them in your possession!  A large stack of cards sitting in the desk drawer at your office doesn’t help much at a business mixer.  Always carry a small card case full of business cards with you and keep a large box of business cards in the glove compartment or trunk of your car for restocking your card case on the spot.  Use the backs of any cards you get from others to make notes that will jog your memory about each individual or about the conversation you had.

In addition, you should go a step further and carry a vinyl or leather card-carrying case or book for the cards of the people you network with.  These are people in your own personal network of contacts, people who presumably are storing your cards and referring you as well.  Always keep three or four of their cards so you can hand one to anyone interested in their services.

One way to enhance your networking efforts is to use computer software.  When you get back to your office, you can enter the new names and information you’ve acquired into a contact management program to help you organize your information and enable you to easily handle follow-up activities.  In addition to these, several general database programs, such as Relate2Profit, provide contact management capabilities.  You can log in new information and contacts, get reports of your progress, and reminders.  If you’re not already using a program such as this, rest assured that the learning time is a couple of hours or less.

Do you have a favorite networking tool or a particular software program that you’ve found to be especially useful in enhancing your networking efforts?  If so, please write about it in the comment forum below–I’m always interested in hearing about new tools for increasing networking effectiveness. Thanks!

 

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