Businesses Say Networking Helps Them Succeed; Professors Have to Look up the Term Networking!

My recently completed Referral Institute study of more than 12,000 business professionals from all around the world has ended, and I’ve been going through mountains of statistics and data (oh joy).  I thought I might share an important one with my readers.  This statistic will not surprise anyone in the real world (yes professors, I’m saying you live in a fantasy world):  91.4 percent of all respondents claimed that networking played a role in their success.  Only 6 percent said it did not, and I’m guessing that the 2.7 percent that said networking wasn’t applicable were the professors I just outed as being clueless about the real world.  If you think I’m being harsh, read my blog about my experience with the dean of a local California University who said that networking would never be taught in his school!

OK, so the rest of us aren’t surprised about this result, but here’s why I posted it: Finally, we have some empirical data as to how important business networking is to the success of a business! Maybe now that we are starting to have something boring–like  hard data– more professors in business schools will start to teach this content.  Oh well, it’s good to have goals.

Ask Me A Question . . . C’mon, Any Question!

OK, wait, let me rephrase that . . . ask me any business networking question–not just any question. If you’re thinking along the lines of embarrassing moments and possible blackmail material, then you’re out of luck on this one ( Sorry, I’ve still got disclaimers on the brain after my blog about the legal system! :))

Anyway, I’m happy to announce that AskIvanMisner.com is now live, and this is your chance to ask me any question you have about how to build your personal and professional network.

On the third Tuesday of each month, beginning on Nov. 17 (10 a.m. Pacific/1 p.m. Eastern), I’ll be conducting a FREE, live teleseminar, co-hosted by my friend Alex Mandossian, where I’ll answer a handful of questions selected from those submitted on AskIvanMisner.com.

I’m encouraging anyone and everyone to log on and submit a question for me. You’ll be given the call-in number once you’ve submitted your question, and it’s perfectly fine with me if you invite any of your friends and/or business colleagues to join the FREE calls as well.

I’m looking forward to reading your questions, so log onto AskIvanMisner.com now and ask away!

The Secret to Balance

Do you have balance in your life?  Personal and professional balance in our lives seems to be the ever-elusive dream for many of us.  Trying to balance home, work, health, spirituality and free time seems almost impossible.  It is something that businesspeople have told me for years.

Well, I am pleased to tell you that I believe I’ve found the answer to creating balance in your life.   Are you ready?  Write this down. Here it is:  Forget about balance, you’ll never have it!

I can hear you now . . . “What?!  No balance?!? That can’t be!  It’s just not right!” But wait . . . there IS good news.  Although I don’t think balance is possible, I do believe you can create harmony in your life.  This differentiation is more than just semantics.  It is a critical approach to looking at life that can free you up to see the world in a different way.

“Balance” assumes that we spend an equal amount of time in all or most areas of our life.  It is like the image of the scales (see the picture at right) where everything is completely in balance and equal.  It assumes that we must spend a certain portion of each week devoted in some equal measure to every item important in our life.

Well, the problem with that is that almost no one can really achieve that.  Especially entrepreneurs, professionals and salespeople.  We tend to live such hectic, busy lives that it is incredibly difficult to fit it all in.  Women often tell me that this issue is an even bigger problem for them.

So what do we do about this?  For me, it’s about creating harmony.  Just look at the image representing harmony  in this blog (see the yin yang symbol at right).  Even the image is lopsided when you look at one aspect at a time.  But it is the whole that feels complete.  This is a way to look at the issue that has personally worked for me.  Sometimes I work crazy, long hours for several days in a row.  Or I may be on the road traveling for business for many days at a time.  On the other hand, I am a husband and a father.  I need and want to be there for my family as well as have time for myself.  Long ago I figured out that daily balance is almost impossible.  But I found I could create harmony using a few core principles.

First, three simple words make a big difference to me: “Be here now.” Wherever you are, be there.  If you are at work, don’t think about the time you did not spend with the family the night before or what you should be doing with you significant other right now.  When you are at home, don’t think about the work you have to do at the office.  Wherever you are, be there . . . fully and completely.

Second, make sure to set aside time to do all the things that are truly important in your life. Yeah, I know everyone says that, but here’s my twist:  Be creative about how you manage this. For example, when I wrote my first book I didn’t want to be holed up in my office writing in the evening and not be available to my family.  I found a creative way to find that time that was in harmony with my family time.  A few evenings a month, I’d stay up with the family, put everyone to bed and then go into my office and start writing at 11 p.m. and work almost all night on my manuscript.  I’d catch a few hours of sleep and get into the office a little late to start my day.  I’m a late-night person and this worked for me.  It may not work for you.  However, my point is to be creative and inventive in finding ways YOU can accomplish what you need to do, yet still allow yourself to spend time doing the other things in your life that bring you harmony.  Nothing pleased me more than when I showed my children the book when it was published and they said to me . . . “When did you write that?!” They had no idea I was up late working several times a month.  That was harmony to me!

Third, find ways to integrate various elements of your life. For many years, I have spent weeks at a time up at my lake home in the mountains.  Each year, I spend a week or two working from the lake house remotely.  Now I bring up my staff and management team for short retreat/workdays.  It is a great way to combine my work life into a leisure environment.   Then, the last week or so, I take off COMPLETELY and spend time with my family.  By integrating my two worlds, I create a sense of harmony.

Last, remember this: when you are 70 years old, you are not going to wish you spent more time at the office. You don’t need to be a workaholic to be successful.

Focus on creating harmony in your life.  Be creative.  Don’t try to do the things I do or that someone else does.  Find ideas that work for you and the life you live.  Make the time to do the things that are important to you and be innovative.  Harmony is created where harmony is sought.  OK, that’s a bit “new age” sounding . . . but it is true.

I’m very interested to hear what you think of this approach and/or what do you do to create balance in your life.  Leave a comment and let me, and others reading this blog, know what has worked for you.

Networking and the Sexes Survey–Last Chance to Participate!

Have you ever wondered if men and women approach networking differently?

Well, I have. I’m actually in the process of gathering information to write a book about it with my friends Frank DeRaffele and Hazel Walker. A huge part of the book is going to be based on the findings of a survey we’re currently conducting. It’s the most comprehensive survey on gender and networking ever conducted, and we currently have 7,800 responses–which means we’re almost to our target of 8,000-10,000 responses!

The online survey only takes a few minutes, and I’d love to hear your opinions on Networking and the Sexes before the survey closes. You can rest assured that your opinions and comments are greatly appreciated and will be kept completely confidential; however, if you’d like to come back and leave a comment about what you thought of the survey, I’d be really interested to hear what you have to say!

If you live in Africa or South America, we especially need responses from people in those countries, so I’d really appreciate it if you’d take a few moments to participate and encourage your friends, family, and co-workers to participate as well.

CLICK ON THE FOLLOWING LINK TO JOIN THE SURVEY NOW: http://www.SurveyMonkey.Com/s.asp?u=204762616512

Thanks!

5 Laws and 5 Flaws of Conversation from ‘The Mingling Maven’

My good friend Susan RoAne recently joined me as a fellow member of the iLearningGlobal.tv faculty and, as I was talking to her about the content she plans to contribute to the iLearningGlobal.tv website, I was suddenly struck with the memory of a great section from her book, How to Work a Room, which talks about casual conversation when networking.

If you have a chance to read the book, I highly recommend it because there are tons of great networking tips throughout the entire book. Not only will you get a great education on networking, you’ll be laughing from beginning to end. That’s one thing anyone who has met Susan knows about her–she’s hilarious!

However, since my blog isn’t supposed to be about my friend Susan’s witty sense of humor (Maybe I’ll start a blog devoted to that later . . . kidding, Susan! :)) and it IS supposed to be about helping you become a better networker, I’ll go ahead and let the excerpt from How to Work a Room which I’ve been alluding to tell you about the five laws and five flaws of conversation:

Five Fundamental Laws of Casual Conversation

  • Be a conversational chameleon. Adapt conversation to the individual by age, interest, profession.
  • Be a name dropper. Always mention the names of people or places you could have in common.
  • Borrow other people’s lives. Share the stories, comments and quips of your friends who have kids, have websites, are tai kwon do students, are Xtreme athletes, have opera tickets–even if you don’t.
  • Be a two-timer. Give people a second chance.
  • Be nice to everyone. Don’t judge tomorrow’s book by today’s cover.

Fatal Flaws of Casual Conversation

  • Being unprepared by not reading papers, trade journals and information sources
  • Controlling conversations by asking a barrage of questions, no matter how open-ended, or telling a nonstop series of jokes
  • Complaining (kvetching); bragging
  • One-upping/competing, interrupting, not listening, slinging put-downs
  • Offering unsolicited feedback

Have a Good Story… Share It!

Before television there was radio. Before radio there were books. And before books there were storytellers. No matter what the medium–stone tablets, movies, grocery store tabloids, the internet–the story is central.

A good story stays with people and compels them to share it with others. It’s as true today as it was 2000 years ago–and it’s especially true of success stories. Everyone likes to hear them; everyone likes to have one. Do you see how this aligns perfectly with word-of-mouth marketing, where referrals are based on thousands of individual success stories? You see, every time one networker passes a referral to another, she is telling a story about a need fulfilled successfully or a problem solved effectively.

You can empower your network by writing down success stories about your business so that they won’t be forgotten and they can be told to other people. You also want to encourage your networking partners to swap stories with you so you can each keep the stories on file and use them to help find and refer great business opportunities to each other.

The key is to capture a truly compelling story–one that practically begs to be shared, one that the people in your network would actually have trouble keeping to themselves. The anatomy of a successful word-of-mouth story about your business is quite simple. It has a captivating beginning, an action-packed middle and a happy ending (and, conveniently, it will in most cases naturally outline for your referral partners what your perfect customer looks like). If you’re expecting other people to act on your story and share it, it must be a compelling story–and must have a positive outcome.

Chances are you have several great success stories about your business but, if not several, I’m sure you have at least one. So to start with, I’d like to challenge you to write down your business’s most compelling success story, ask at least one person on your word-of-mouth marketing team to do the same, and then share your stories with each other.

The more stories you share with other people, the more high-quality referrals you’ll get and the more success stories you’ll generate as you continue to network your business.

People Are Talking About You–Are You in the Conversation?

My last blog, “Get Engaged,” brings up the point that dialogue about you and your business is going to happen with or without you. Whether it’s online or face-to-face dialogue, the basic point is that if you don’t participate in the conversation, you’re not in control whatsoever; if you do participate, then you can publicly say who you are and steer the conversation in a positive way.

If you’re interested in learning about this topic in more detail, I’d like to invite you to attend a free telebridge call that I’ll be hosting this Friday, Sept. 25 at 10 a.m. (U.S. Pacific Time); 1 p.m. (U.S. Eastern Time).

The topic of the call will be “People are talking about you . . . are you in the conversation?” and you can participate in the call by dialing 712-451-6150 at the above listed date and time. Be sure to use the access code: 585143# (don’t forget the # sign).

This is going to be a great call and I’d love for you to join the conversation and then come back and leave a comment about what you thought!

The Speed of Trust

I’m in Cancun this week, participating in the Transformational Leadership Council (a network of transformational trainers and profesionals started by Jack Canfield in 2004).

I had an opportunity again to hear my friend Stephen M. R. Covey speak about his book, The Speed of Trust, and it reminded me just how much I love this book and why it is so important to networking.

During his presentation, he told how Warren Buffet bought a company from Wal-Mart in one single meeting of two hours. Both parties shook hands and, 29 days later, Wal-Mart had its money. In Buffet’s annual report he said; “We did no due diligence. We knew that Wal-Mart would do what they said, and they did.”

In this day and age of long contracts and huge legal bills, this sale was done quickly because there was high trust on both sides. The result was a deal done in less than a month, saving millions of dollars.

Trust is the most compelling form of motivation. Covey spoke about “Three Key Ideas” to move at the speed of trust:

  1. There is a compelling business rationale for trust. It affects cost. There are economic benefits. High trust is a divedend and low trust is a tax. When trust goes down, speed goes down with it. When trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down. This is a dividend, a high-trust dividend. Trust is a qualitative and quantitative factor. Nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.
  2. In today’s new global economy, the ability to establish trust is key to every organization. We are interdependent. In a cluttered world, trust helps you cut through the clutter. It is a performance multiplier. When people trust you, everything else you do is enhanced.
  3. Trust is a competency. It is something we create and can get good at. It all starts with self-trust and personal credibility. Are we behaving in a way that builds trust and transparency? Are we keeping commitments and talking straight?

One of the best ways to obtain trust is to extend trust. When trust is reciprocated, it moves faster.

Covey ended his presentation by asking, “Are there people that you work with that you could extend trust to who you can make a profound difference for?” Now the key is to follow your conscience. Develop relationships and extend trust.

I love Covey’s book and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to build and improve his or her personal network.

Shown in photo – Stephen M.R. Covey, Ivan Misner and Greg Link (Covey’s business partner at Covey-Link).

Networking a Soft Science? Only to College Professors!

Recently, I had lunch with the president of a Southern California University along with his dean for the School of Business. We spoke about many things but, specifically, he wondered what I thought the school could be doing better to teach students graduating from his university. My answer was easy–“start teaching courses on networking, social capital and/or emotional intelligence.”

He asked me why.  I told him that if you ask the average business person or entrepreneur what one of the most important ways to build his or her business is, he or she will almost always tell you “networking or word of mouth.” So if networking is so important, why aren’t we teaching it?  I told him that social capital (which is the study of resources developed through personal and professional relationships) and emotional intelligence (sometimes called EQ for emotional quotient) are key factors to the successful interaction of people with one another.  I suggested that often people may get hired because of their IQ, but they get promoted because of their EQ.  All of these subjects have a strong influence on someone’s success and there is a wealth of research being developed in each of those areas.

The president looked to his dean for the School of Business and asked him what he thought. The dean looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “My professors would never teach that material here.” I asked him why and he said, “It’s all soft science.”

Soft science! Teaching people how to interact with people in an effective way is “soft science!” I should not have been surprised. I’ve run into this many times before with college professors in the past. I was just amazed that this progressive university would take such a position.

We give people bachelor’s degrees in marketing, business and even entrepreneurship, but we teach them hardly anything about the one subject that virtually every entrepreneur says is critically important to his or her business–networking and social capital. Why don’t business schools teach this subject? I think it’s because most business schools are made up of professors who’ve NEVER owned a business in their life. Almost everything they’ve learned about running a business they’ve learned from books and consulting. Well, I’ve read a fair number of books, I was a consultant for many years, and I’ve run my own business for more than two decades. I can tell you firsthand that if you haven’t actually owned a business, you have a handicap in teaching a course involving entrepreneurship.

Can you imagine a law course taught by someone who’s not an attorney, or an accounting course taught by anyone without direct accounting experience? Yet we put business professors in colleges to teach courses related to marketing and entrepreneurship with little or no firsthand experience in the field. Is it any wonder, then, that a subject that is so critically important to business people would be so completely missed by business schools? Of course not. Networking and social capital courses aren’t taught in business schools because most business professors aren’t practitioners. They don’t really understand the importance of this subject for entrepreneurs. Granted, there was little written in the field of networking and social capital 20 years ago (do a literature search. You’ll see), but that is not the case today. There are hundreds of articles and many books on various facets of the area. A thorough bibliography of many of these articles and books can be found in the back of The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret (Revised Edition).

Networking is a field that is finally being codified and structured. Business schools around the world need to wake up and start teaching this curriculum. Schools like any large institution are bureaucracies, so it’s unlikely to happen quickly; however, for those schools with vision, foresight and the ability to act swiftly (sort of the way business professors claim that businesses should act), they will be positioning themselves as leaders in education by truly understanding and responding to the needs of today’s businesses. These schools will be on the cutting edge of business education to better serve their students while positioning themselves as a leading institution for entrepreneurs.

Word-of-mouth marketing works. Social capital is critically important. And networking is the mechanism to develop both. As more universities and colleges open their doors to professors who want to include this strategy with their marketing instruction, we’re going to see a major shift in the business landscape. We’ll see emerging entrepreneurs who’ll be equipped with another strategy for success in business. We will see networking utilized at its fullest capacity, and we will see business schools actually teaching a subject that the business practitioner says is important.

If that doesn’t happen, the private sector will once again step up to the plate and fill the gap for the lack of practical education provided by universities. Just look at sales training. Colleges totally miss the boat on this subject which has created an “after degree” market in sales training done by people like Brian Tracy (briantracyuniversity.com). I predict the same will happen for networking and referral marketing with organizations like the Referral Institute (referralinstitute.com).

By the way, at the end of the conversation during that lunch, I asked the dean about courses on leadership.  I said, “How are courses on leadership any less of a soft science than networking?”  He didn’t have an answer. What a surprise.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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