Become an Information Exchange

Networking involves constant interaction with people from all walks of life and, if you keep your ears open, you can learn a heck of a lot.

And, guess what?  Knowing a heck of a lot makes you smarter.  Guess what’s even better?  Being able to communicate what you know and using it to help people get what they need makes you a valuable contact and a master networker.  It makes you an information exchange.

Start by listening to everything. Train yourself to listen to conversations you might ordinarily tune out, and to evaluate every issue you hear with an eye to how it fits into the pool of talent, expertise and resources your network represents.

One way to enhance this skill is to write down a list of your networking contacts and their products, services and special capabilities. Read the list every day, keep it up to date and respond quickly when something you hear connects up with something else on the list.

Learn as much as you can about the special terminologies of your contacts’ businesses. When you’re referring someone with a problem to someone with a possible solution, it adds to your effectiveness and credibility to speak the language of both.  It also helps you recognize the connection.

Last but not least, always follow these tips when communicating information to those in your network:

  • Speak simply, clearly and  in plain language whenever possible.
  • Keep the message short and relevant.
  • End with your offer to help.

Simple Recognition Is Sometimes the Best Reward

Rather than receiving a finder’s fee, for most referral sources  it is more important to be recognized as a person who can direct others to the goods and services provided by skilled, highly competent, trustworthy people.

Over the years I’ve witnessed time and again that most people will do more for simple recognition than for money. However, for those who expect a finder’s fee, this is a good thing to know in advance if you want to keep the relationship healthy, active and profitable.

You will find that different motivators will inspire different members of your referral team, and this is a matter in which understanding the various behavioral styles of people can be helpful.

People who are embarrassed by being in the spotlight, even for accolades and applause, might prefer their rewards low-key and private–perhaps a simple thank you or an evening cruise on your boat if you are a boat owner.  Those who like public recognition might prefer seeing their name showcased on your bulletin board.  Still others may be more highly motivated by an inexpensive but thoughtful gift than by a more substantial cash reward–a bottle of wine from a winery near their hometown or a coffee table book about their favorite travel destination.

The point is, simple recognition really resonates with most people and, more often than not, simply recognizing people in the way they prefer to be recognized is a far better reward and incentive for them to refer you to others than offering them a cash finder’s fee.

If you’re in the habit of recognizing people as a way of thanking them for referrals, please leave a comment about what’s worked for you and even what hasn’t.  Then check back next week to read my story about a way in which someone recognized me that kept me motivated to refer that person over and over again!

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 Nature of a Referral Relationship

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

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

‘Practice Makes Perfect’ is Not Enough

When it comes to networking, practice alone is not enough. It must be effective practice.  Just showing up at meetings and going through the motions will not improve your networking or your business.

In martial arts, the sensei (master) says, “Perfect practice makes perfect.” In other words, if you’re just going through the motions, you’re not learning and growing. Every time you do a kata (a system of basic body positioning and movement exercises in karate), you must do it as though you were in a tournament, or as though the sensei were there watching you. Only with that intensity of focus does one improve. The same applies to your networking efforts. If you’re applying the techniques halfheartedly, you’ll get less-than-acceptable results.

Practicing the skills necessary to become a good networker is important. But would-be networkers cannot expect to become master networkers  just by going through the motions. Take, for instance, the 60-second presentation or brief commercial you make every week when you attend many types of networking groups or various other organizations.  Most people come to the meeting unprepared and unrehearsed, with only a vague idea of what they will talk about. While others give their presentations, instead of listening, they’re thinking about how to say what they need to say. When their turn comes, they stumble through an amateurish, marginal presentation. Yes, they practiced, but it was far from perfect practice, and the results prove it.

If you’re a teacher, do you wing your lesson plan? The better teachers set goals and objectives for what they want their students to learn. They spend time planning exactly what they are going to cover in class, sometimes down to the exact wording, and they prepare visual aids and handouts that reinforce the subject matter and facilitate learning.

As a businessperson, you should have similar goals and objectives: What, exactly, do you want your listeners to learn about your business that they can pass along to prospects for a possible referral? If you’re vague about your lesson plan, if you’re unprepared to stand and deliver, your potential referral partners are going to leave the meeting without a clear idea of how to refer you. And you need to practice delivering your message. Standing up and winging it is not going to get you what you want. You have to practice it perfectly if your goal is perfection.

‘Just Listen’–Get Through to Absolutely Anyone

It’s no secret that a master networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionally. But even if you think you’re a good listener, you may be surprised at how much you might still be lacking when it comes to listening effectively.

My good friend Mark Goulston’s new book, Just Listen, will not only teach you how to make a powerful and positive first impression by listening effectively, it will even show you how to turn the “impossible” and “unreachable” people in your life into allies, devoted customers, loyal colleagues and lifetime friends.

The point is, if you want to maximize your networking efforts and build the strongest network possible, the skill of truly listening is crucial for you to develop; and Just Listen is the ultimate, must-read guide that you need to get your hands on.

Mark is a bestselling author, a psychiatrist, a business consultant, an executive coach and a hostage-negotiation trainer for the FBI. Over the span of his career in these fields, he has found what consistently works to reach all kinds of people in any situation. Any guesses as to what he’s found one of the most powerfully effective strategies for getting through to anyone might be? . . . Yep, you got it! . . . LISTENING!

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who could teach you how to listen more effectively than Mark, and I can guarantee you that you won’t have a problem focusing on reading his book (“listening” to his words as you read) because he’s not only a pretty darn interesting guy, he’s also remarkably entertaining! 🙂

CLICK HERE to visit Mark’s website

CLICK HERE to find out more about Just Listen.

Read reviews and purchase Just Listen on Amazon.com

Read reviews and purchase Just Listen on Barnes&Noble.com

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!

‘Notworking’ is Sometimes Good

It’s not called “net-sit” or “net-eat,” it’s called NetWORK! Effective networking is all about learning how to work your network effectively and appropriately.

I also believe that there are times to “notwork.” As a matter of fact, I’m fairly confident that when I’m 70 years old, I won’t say, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office.”

BigBearDeckDay

I believe that we entrepreneurs, business professionals and salespeople need to make sure to take time to . . . notwork. I do my best “notworking” at my lodge in Big Bear Lake, California. I’m writing this blog from my deck, pictured here during the day (above) and again at night (below).

BigBearDeckNight

Each year we have a family tradition that each family member gets to pick two things that we all do together during the time we are up here. We type it up and, as each item is completed, the family member puts his or her initials next to his or her item, and we post it on the refrigerator (we have nine years posted there so far). Last night my daughter chose S’mores around the campfire. Today, my son chose a “mental health day” (in the Misner family this means nobody in and nobody out–we hang around the house, watch TV, read, play games and mostly veg).

Success is many things to many people. To me, it’s having the time to spend in a place I love with the people I love. That is true success.

Sometimes, “notworking” is a very good thing.

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!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
1 15 16 17
   Follow Me

Get every new post delivered to your inbox