Resist Coin-Operated Networking

When networking, do you only talk to those who can give you the most in return? Do you only give your business card to someone who you will bring you a ton of referrals? Do you only give referrals if you know you’ll get them in return?

If this sounds like you, you are doing it all wrong. Networking is not a vending machine. You don’t put in coins into the machine and get a candy bar every time–sometimes, you have to wait for your candy.

This mentality is called “transactional networking,” which is going to get you nowhere quickly in the world of referral networking. The “I will give you this, now you have to give me that,” point of view is only going to leave you sorely disappointed.

Instead, the proper mindset is, “Let me help you. I’ve got some ideas. I have a referral for you.” Over time, they’ll give it back you when the opportunity arises. This mentality is called “relational.” Keeping score or holding a referral back because you haven’t received one in return won’t always work, but thinking about giving before getting and making it the foundation of your business reputation, will.

Let’s take a closer look. If you’re keeping score and have given two referrals, but only received one in return, you might be a little disappointed. But consider the value of those referrals. You can’t simply go by the numbers. Two referrals to a florist are vastly different than two referrals to a real estate agent. By the same token, we don’t think it’s realistic to expect $1,000 worth of referrals from someone just because you passed them referrals of that amount.

By applying the Givers Gain philosophy, you will make your referral relationships relational rather than transactional and find success in this relationship. Let’s say there’s somebody you don’t know well, but you want to know that person better and build a referral relationship. You think this person may be able to help you and you know you can help them. You don’t start a referral relationship by asking them to sign a contract that for every referral you give him, he has to give you one in return! The way to start the process is to give.

I understand the hesitation to give referrals to someone you don’t know well–but giving doesn’t have to start with a referral. It can start with a conversation. If you’re having a conversation with a possible referral partner and they express a problem they may be having, you might say, “You know, I just read a great article on that. I’ll email it to you.” You hand them your business card with your email address on it, they do the same and –voila! A connection is made through giving.

Remember, networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships.

State Side Once Again

Passion. Energy. Gratitude.

Those tokens are what I remember from those who attended the BNI Conferences of Italy and England.

For those of you who don’t know, my wife Beth and I were in Europe the past three weeks traveling to Italy and England for their BNI National Conferences. This was our first trip to Italy, and  I hadn’t visited England in several years, so this was a big deal for all those involved.

One of the reasons I enjoy traveling to the international conferences, is because I love meeting the people who drive BNI: our Members. Business owners who are working hard to make it in the world, who are dedicated to our core values, who are passionate about learning ways to make their business better. Seeing their energy and their commitment is what drives me to keep producing content and find new ways to give real people real advice on networking and small business performance.

In Italy, what impressed me the most was the hospitality of the people. The warmth and kindness was palpable and I had no problem opening up–even with the language barrier. Like I always say, networking is the same in any language, and culture can’t stop people from interacting from one another. (In fact, I challenge you to network with someone who practices a different culture than you do– you might be surprised at just how similar you are.) Everyone wants to succeed, everyone wants to use the tools given to them in the right way–which is something I felt deeply from Italian Members. At every turn there was someone shaking my hand, thanking me for helping them push through some of the hardest times of their professional lives–for that, I am grateful.

Our Members in England were unique in their energy, to be sure. The excitement and enthusiasm was something I wish I could bottle and take whenever I need a boost! Once I took the stage on Friday at their conference’s Members Day, the Tweets began multiplying like fireworks–hundreds within a mere few hours. It wasn’t ignorance on fire, but passion, which is even better. They took every word of my speech to heart, hung on every word, which made me feel completely humbled and appreciative. I look over those tweets and think, “Wow! They liked me–they really liked me!”

Take a look through this photo album and see if you can feel what I felt during that time. It was truly something I will never forget.

 

 

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Ivan on fire

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Red Nose Day

What better what to celebrate a normal Thursday, than by putting on a red nose?

Trust me, it’s for a good cause–no–a GREAT cause.

Red Nose Day brings awareness and fundraising efforts to children’s charities across the globe. At the BNI Foundation, we support children in education, so this movement seemed like a great fit for us to support. Nonprofits such as charity: water, National Urban League and Save the Children will benefit from 100% of the proceeds raised through Red Nose Day.

Tonight, NBC will host a special featuring live entertainment from well-known celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Jimmy Fallon and U2, all while fundraising for children living in poverty.

Beth and I hope you tune in and donate to this very worthy cause. And meanwhile, enjoy this clip of us donning our own red noses!

Talking on Givers Gain, Passions, and Family

I have been interviewed by countless reporters, blog authors, and more. Usually once you hit the “dozen books published” line, they assume you have a thing or two to say. With all of those interviews, you’d think I’d run out of things to say. In actuality, I’ve found that the energy of the person interviewing me really comes into play and helps make each conversation unique.

Below are a few clips from a recent talk I did with Cordelia Henry of the Referral Institute. We cover a wide spectrum of topics, which I always love because it gives plenty of variety.

On Givers Gain:

On Working in Your Flame:

On Family:

On the Greatest Referral I Ever Got:

Thanks Cordelia, for the wonderful conversation!

Will You Take the Givers Gain Challenge?

Givers GainThis time of year always leaves me very reflective. Since it is Thanksgiving here in the United States today, I just want to take a moment to talk about something near and dear to me – Givers Gain.

I have a lot to be thankful for, from my wonderful family to my striving business networking organization. Thanksgiving isn’t the only day that I’m thankful, but it certainly is one day that gives me a chance to relax and enjoy the things that I am thankful for.

I’ve said it before, and I’m sure I’ll say it again – Givers Gain is a standard, not a sword. By giving to others, in all aspects of life, ultimately I will reap the benefits. However, looking at others and judging their actions against Givers Gain will never benefit anyone. After 3 decades of keeping this standard close to my heart, it remains just as true.

That being said, I have a challenge for you all. Go out sometime in the next week or so and do something selflessly for others. It could be for someone close to you, or a complete stranger, or a group of people. Whomever you do something for, do it with only their best interest in mind.

Share with me, either through this blog or on my social media, what happened when you were truly selfless. I’d love to hear your stories.

3 Tips for Putting the Butterfly Effect of Networking in Motion

IvanRichardBethSome years back, I posted a blog detailing how my introduction to Richard Branson was completely the result of the Butterfly Effect of Networking.  In thinking about that blog post, it occurred to me that an important part of the reason I was able to make such effective and rewarding networking connections was the way that I thought about, and therefore went about networking. Here’s what I mean by that . . .

While it’s important to know the right things to do while networking, it’s equally important to start thinking the right way to make your networking efforts as successful and dynamic as they can be. This involves altering your mind-set. Here is an up-close look at some elements you’ll want to include in your mind-set to ensure networking success:

  1. The law of reciprocity or Givers Gain® approach.

Don’t approach networking thinking ‘I did this for you, now what are you going to do for me?’ Instead, remember the old adage Give and you shall receive? The law of reciprocity takes the focus off of what you stand to gain from the networking relationship, and in doing so, creates bonds based on trust and friendship. Put it to the test. You’ll be amazed by the outcome.

  1. Diversity in networking.

Look for groups that don’t target people just like you. In this way, you’ll broaden the net you seek to cast for referrals.

  1. Farming mentality.

It’s a long, drawn-out process to go from seeding a field to harvesting the crops and there’s no quick return. But, when you spend time and take care in building relationships, your networking will yield extraordinary results.

Approaching networking with a mentality that focuses on the process of cultivating referrals will create the results you desire. Make an effort to spend more time strengthening your friendships with those whom you wish to have as part of your networking circle and you will certainly make more and better connections.

Do you have any tips for developing a networking-friendly mindset which positions you for success?  I’d love to hear from you, so please leave your thoughts, comments, and ideas in the forum below.  Thanks!

Learning to Use the Law of Reciprocity

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Put simply, the law of reciprocity in networking means that by providing benefits (including referrals) to others, you will be creating strong networking relationships that will eventually bring benefits (especially referrals) to you, often in a very roundabout way rather than directly from the person you benefit.  This makes the law of reciprocity an enormously powerful tool for growing your own business’s size and profitability.  Below you will find four very important things to remember as you learn to use the law of reciprocity in your networking efforts.

Tip No. 1–Giving means helping others achieve success. What is your plan to contribute to others? How much time and energy can you spare for this? Do you actively seek out opportunities to help people? You could volunteer to help out with something that’s important to someone in your network, offer advice or support in time of need, or even work hard to connect someone to a valuable contact of yours.

Tip No. 2–The person who helps you will not necessarily be the person you helped. Zig Ziglar says, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” In other words, what goes around comes around. If you focus intently on helping others, you will achieve success in the end.

Tip No. 3–The law of reciprocity can be measured. It is a myth that networking cannot be measured and, in my latest book, Networking Like a Pro, my co-authors and I use the Networking Scorecard Worksheet, part of the Certified Networker Program offered through the Referral Institute, to measure networking. If you apply the law of reciprocity, you will see your weekly total networking score gradually rise.

Tip No. 4–Success takes getting involved.  You have to do more than simply be present to be a successful networker. If you join a chamber of commerce, become an ambassador. If you join a BNI chapter, get involved in the leadership team. If you join a civic organization, get on a committee. The law of reciprocity requires giving to the group; it will pay you back many times over.

A master networker understands that, although networking is not the end but simply the means to growing a business, service to your network of contacts must always be uppermost in your networking activities. Once you have established a solid reputation as someone who cares about the success of others, the law of reciprocity will reward you with an abundance of high quality referrals.

Your Contribution Lives On

The news of Robin Williams’ suicide stunned me last week. He is someone we collectively feel strongly personal about, as if we knew him as a friend. And the situation that apparently led him to take his own life – depression – just left me feeling like I had been sucker punched.

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And then it led me to some deeper and more profound thoughts. Albert Pine, an English author who wrote in the early 19th century said, “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains unchanged and is immortal.” There is no doubt that Robin Williams has left a mark on our world. I have spent hours laughing through one of Williams’ movies, a comedy show or even a simple interview, and I’m sure you have, too.

To paraphrase Pine, I would say the following: What we do for ourselves ends with us.  What we do for others lives on.

I certainly hope that what I do for others will live on. This shattering event has given me a moment to pause and take a look at how I have started a movement within business with the purpose to change the way we do business.

I’m so serious about this movement that I have adopted as my motto: “Changing the Way the World Does Business®”This change comes by implementing a shift in the focus of how we go about growing our businesses – from a dog-eat-dog, competitive model, to a how-can-I-help-you, collaborative model.

One of our business colleagues said recently about our mission that “we know referrals are our purpose, but impacting someone’s life is our calling.”

When doing business with the “givers gain” philosophy gets really embedded in practice, there’s a huge movement from “transactional” to “transformational relationships,” and both people and business take on fresh dimensions of trust and creativity that can’t be measured with mere numbers. That ethos and experience, multiplied in viral fashion, changes the face of business, which in turn impacts lives in positive ways.

Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe, wrote, “Anything that is in the world when you’re born is normal and ordinary and is just a natural part of the way the world works. Anything that’s invented between when you’re fifteen and thirty-five is new and exciting and revolutionary and you can probably get a career in it.” This Givers Gain business focus started when I was just 28 years old and has provided me with a rewarding and long career.

I think we can all use our loss of one of America’s great comedians and actors to start a conversation about what our contribution is going to be that will live on past our life span. I would encourage you to design a fulfilling life. Whatever you are, be a good one, as my friend Stewart Emery says.

I sincerely hope that somehow Robin Williams had a sense of the contribution he made to our lives before he left us, all too soon.  

Rest in peace, Robin. You will be missed.

May I Take Your Photo?–A Lesson in Great Customer Service

Givers Gain Art

I was at the BNI® U.S. National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee last week and every day, room service would come up and deliver my meals (often, right as a meeting in my suite was wrapping up).   Leslie (pictured below) was the employee who most often made the deliveries during the last part of my stay. On one of these days, I had a group of ten BNI Directors in my suite. They were kind enough to give me a Givers Gain® plaque (pictured at right) made by one of their local members.

Leslie--Omni

We started to gather around to get a photo and Leslie said, “Would you like me to take the picture?”  Now that’s not a big surprise, employees at hotels and restaurants have become accustomed to taking photos of the many people going through their venues. But here was the unusual part; she then said to everyone – “Okay, everybody give me all your cameras–I’ll take a photo with each of them.” She then dutifully accepted each camera and phone and, one by one, took many photographs making sure that everyone got their own picture.

While I was watching all of this, it struck me that she not only didn’t act “put-out” by having one camera after another given to her – she happily took each picture patiently and professionally, and smiled and chatted while she took each and every photo as though she were taking photos of her own family. I couldn’t help but think that there was some supervisor downstairs wondering what was taking her so long. The truth is, she was giving the guests at her hotel a very nice experience.

It made me start to think about each trip that Leslie made to the room. She was courteous, friendly, helpful, and attentive. I was so wrapped up in “the business of a running a conference” that I didn’t really notice just how good she really was until things started winding down for me.

So, for the record – to Leslie’s supervisor at the Omni Hotel in Nashville: Please know that Leslie was working diligently at creating a great guest experience. So much so, that I told the hotel manager that Leslie should be teaching customer service training – she’s that good. Thank you, Leslie – your stellar service was well noted (it may have taken me a few days – but I noticed).

If you’ve had a terrific customer service experience in the past, I’d love for you to share it in the comment forum below because I’m very interested in hearing about it–I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on what it was specifically that made your experience great.

P.S.–Many of you know that I radically altered my diet and, because of that, my wife Beth and I work closely with the hotel chefs when we travel. Well, Chef Harker from the Omni was also incredible (much like Leslie)–he’s one of the best chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with during my travels.  Thank you, Chef Harker!

The Law of Reciprocity Works in Mysterious Ways


The Law of Reciprocity is a part of social capital theory and, in simple terms, it basically states that what you give/put out to the world will come back around to you in equal measure (i.e., ‘what goes around comes around’) and if you help others, you’ll receive help in return.

The interesting thing is that the Law of Reciprocity is not always immediate and the way in which it’s actually working is not always clear cut or easy to see.  You may help a person in their time of need and find that your good will toward them comes back to you in the form of good will or help repaid to you from someone completely different.  That’s the beauty of it though . . . when you have pure intentions toward others and act positively on those intentions, life (via the Law of Reciprocity) will reward you in surprising ways (And good surprises are much more fascinating and enjoyable than being able to predict exactly how the good you do will come back to you, right?).

In this video, in addition to discussing my general view on the Givers Gain® and the Law of Reciprocity, I share my initial reaction in regard to recently finding out how my son helped a friend in a time of dire need and I talk about how I believe the Law of Reciprocity will no doubt come into play for him as a result.

Do you have a story about how the Law of Reciprocity has affected you?  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

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