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Your Network Should be Both Wide and Deep

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be very powerful. You need a strong and stable network that is both wide and deep. Like the supporting roots of a huge oak tree, some of your referral relationships need to go deeper. You create deeper relationships by learning as much as you can about other people. You want to find out details about their family, their interests, and their goals. Get to know them a little bit better.

I think the absolute master at this is definitely Harvey Mackay, a speaker, and best-selling motivational author. The first time I spoke to Harvey on the phone, he must have been taking notes about everything I said. The second time I had a conversation with him, Harvey surprised me by asking, “So, how are your kids? You’ve got three, right? What are Ashley and Cassie doing now? And how’s Trey doing—is he about ready to go to college?”

I was thinking, “Wow! How did you remember all that?” The more I spoke to Harvey, the more I became convinced that he had a system for keeping track of the important details of the people in his network.

Now when I talk to him, I know what he’s doing, and I love it! I’m impressed by Harvey’s system because it takes work. He has a database of the people in his network, and he does some research before calling anyone. And he’s continually adding and updating the information—your pets’ names, your children’s names, your birthday, and the anniversary of your company startup. Harvey sets himself apart by putting in an effort to honor people by remembering what’s important to them. It’s hard not to be impressed by that.

That’s what I mean by going deep with your relationships. Are there other ways to do this? Certainly, but I think Harvey Mackay’s system is excellent. We live in this sound-bite society in which most people want to get right down to business without getting to know the other person. What I’ve found is when you really get to know somebody, amazing things happen.

Here’s a good example of this. In our BNI groups, we introduced a tool called the GAINS profile—it stands for “Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills.” We tested it on a small group of people to see if it would work. Each person filled it out for themselves, listing their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills—both personal and professional. Two guys in our test group didn’t want to fill out their GAINS profiles. “This is just silly,” they complained.

I said, “That’s why we’re testing this tool with you guys before we roll it out. If it doesn’t work, then tell us. But you have to try it first.”

So these two skeptical guys had a conversation and shared their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills with each other. During the process, they discovered that they were both coaches for their sons’ soccer teams. Oh, all of a sudden, these guys were best friends! They talked about soccer and shared plays with each other. They even ended up scouting out the competition for one another’s teams. And guess what happened? These guys had known each other for a year but never did business with each other. Within three months of the GAINS exercise, they were passing quality referrals to each other. The change happened because they found out they were both soccer coaches and that game connected. That connection built trust, which turned into business.

Connecting over a nonbusiness interest endears you to the other person. Now you’re not just some salesperson to them—you’re a friend.

You pay a compliment to people when you show that you understand what’s important to them. Make it an aim of yours to learn at least one goal or personal interest someone has outside of their business.

Is Your Behavior Alienating?

This video is on my Networking for Success YouTube Channel, hosted by Entrepreneur.com.

Behavior is key when networking-it makes or breaks the connections, and ultimately, the relationships you build. I’ve spoken before about the differences between approachable or alienating behavior, but I want to take a deeper look into what qualifies behavior as alienating. You may watch this video and suddenly realize that the little nuances you may have passed off as nothing, are actually keeping you from successfully networking.

Here are four ways you may be alienating others when networking:

1. Negative Attitude: Nobody likes a Debbie Downer. Life is hard enough without having to lament about it all the time. If you’re always complaining or focusing on the negative aspects of life, you’re going to turn people off.

2. Closed Off Body Language: There’s a great graphic in the video that will show you what closed off body language looks like, but basically it means standing in a way that only allows for a conversation to happen between two or three people. Also, if you’re arms are crossed and you have a bored or scowled look on your face, people won’t want to approach you.

3. Incongruence: Do what you say you’re going to do. Don’t talk a big talk and not back it up. This will lead people to become skeptical of your dependability-which is bad if you’re looking to gain trusted referral partners.

4. Not Acting Interested in People: Be interested more than interesting.  A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately.

If you’re still not sure you’re exhibiting these behaviors, take a trusted friend or referral partner with you to your next event and ask them to notice if you act in any of the above ways; you can do the same for them. Have an honest conversation afterward about what you both noticed and work out ways to improve your behavior. At the next event, try and be aware of yourself and the reactions you get when you change your behavior.

 

 

 

Remembering Names

When networking, it’s important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication–making eye contact, listening more than you speak, and of course, actually remembering people’s names.

Yeah, I’d say remembering someone’s name is high up in the list of mannerisms that will impress others in networking. It shows you pay attention to detail, you listen well and are interested in the person, not just their business.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will ensure you never forget your manners–and it actually works!

1. Repetition is key. When you are introduced to someone new, ask for their business card and read it carefully. Then, read the name on the card and ask them to repeat it; it will help lock the face with the name. “Hi! It’s great to meet you, Betsy Smith. It’s pronounced Betsy, yes?”

2. Use their name in conversation. When you begin a conversation, listen to what they are saying and respond by using their name; “Wow, Betsy, that sounds like an incredible opportunity! I’d love to sit down with you over lunch and talk more.” ID-10046846

3. Connect them with others and use their name in the introduction. You are networking after all, so it’s important to connect others if you can. Whe introducing two people, use their names when they first meet. “Joe, I’d like you to meet Betsy. Betsy is a realtor who just landed a big contract with the city. I bet you two would have a lot to talk about!”

4. Dedicate it to memory. Once you’ve left the networking event and you’re back at home or work, take out the business card and try and remember what that person looked like and what they were doing and saying. Maybe even send them a quick “nice to meet you” email to help you remember the conversation you had.

The next time your at a networking event, try to use these devices and see if it helps. If you can remember the devices, that is.

 

Sometimes, the Best Addition is Subtraction

Sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

Let’s say you’re in a networking group and you have hit a plateau. You can remember a time when your group was on fire, when you all had passion and excitement and you couldn’t get to your meeting fast enough. Now, you all seem to have lost steam, and things just aren’t what they used to be. The referrals aren’t being generated, the 1-2-1’s are happening, and the group seems to groan a little every time the meeting begins. You want to regain the passion and help your network grow, but how?

Like I said–sometimes, the best thing you can do is let go.

If you want to add value to your group, you need to take away the things–or people–that are making it dysfunctional. It sounds counterintuitive, but if you want your network to grow, you may have to cut it back.

Lifelong Learning: Lessons in Leadership

 

As many of you know, I was given the fantastic opportunity to spend a few days with John Maxwell at his Leadership Conference in Orlando Florida last week. (You can read my initial reaction to winning the Leadership award here.)

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John shared a story that I thought was a great networking lesson, and it’s something I want to share with all of you.

He began his story when he was a very young pastor in the 1970s. He wanted to learn and grow in his field and he decided that he would try to interview ten of the most successful pastors from across the country. Being a thoughtful man, John realized that their time was valuable and he wanted to pay for it-but at the time, he only made $4,200 a year in salary.

John reached out to the ten pastors he wanted to seek advice from and offered them $100 each for less than an hour of their time to help mentor him in his journey. $100 each doesn’t sound like a lot of money, but multiplied by ten people that equaled almost one quarter of his annual income! But John felt that it was important to show them that he didn’t want something for nothing and would truly value their mentorship.

He went on to explain that only two people took him up on his request. He met with the two pastors, asked his questions, and received great information and took copious notes. Before he left each of them, he asked if they knew any of the eight remaining people on his list. He needed a referral!

Both of them new many of the remaining pastors, so John asked if they would be kind enough to call some of the other eight and make a personal introduction. Both men happily did so. After a short time, John was able to meet with all ten pastors because of the introductions that these two pastors made.

John obtained fantastic insights which enabled him to achieve many of his goals as a young man, and he did it through referral networking.

There were many lessons to be learned in this story, but here’s some of the ones that I got out of it:

  1. Don’t expect something for nothing. Asking for favors from people you don’t know, just doesn’t work well.
  2. Be prepared. Have well-thought out questions.
  3. Take notes and follow the advice.
  4. Most importantly, he asked these individuals if they felt this was worth their time. It was only after they said yes, that he asked for an introduction to the rest of the people on the list.

This last one is an important example of the referral process. He showed up prepared, stuck to the time he promised, did a good job and THEN asked for a laser specific referral if, and only if, they felt that the meeting was worth their time. John was successful because he knew how to be a professional, make a good impression, and then, and only then, ask for the referral.

Great story John.

 

The TRUE Definition of Networking

What is the true definition of business networking? I’m going to give it to you straight.

Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge and expand your sphere of influence. Sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Notice that the key word here is relationships. Successful networking of any kind starts with the genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. If you are only networking to gain and not to give, you’ll never be successful.

Remember-networking is more about FARMING than it is about HUNTING. It’s about cultivating relationships and taking the time and energy to help them grow and flourish. A good farmer knows when to tend to his crop and when to harvest it; if you over pick, you’ll be left with nothing. But if you continue to care for and maintain your crop, it’ll grown abundantly.

Watch the video below to hear more details about the true meaning of business networking.

This video is hosted by the Entrepreneur.com YouTube Channel, Networking for Success.

 

Selecting Your Business Networks

This video is hosted by Entrepreneur.com and can be found on The Networking for Success YouTube Channel.

Networking is the perfect way to help take your business to the next level. But putting your eggs in one basket and depending on one networking group to satisfy all your needs won’t work–and that’s coming from the Founder of the world’s largest referral network.

We all select different people in our lives that satisfy various needs that contribute to our well being; our parents provide comfort and guidance, our close friends provide support and cheer, our business relationships provide trust and honesty. While these satisfactions may overlap from group to group, it’s important to have more than one person you’re leaning on for all your emotional needs.

It’s the same with your networking groups! While you may find cheer and honesty in more than one group, it’s important to spread your interests to gain a varied support system.

When selecting your business networks, you need to understand which types are available so you can make an informed decision. There are five types:

1. Casual Contact: A gathering on people from many different professions, usually in a mixer environment

2. Strong Contact: Usually only allows one person per profession, get together very regularly

3. Community Service Clubs: An opportunity to rub elbows with other very successful people

4. Professional Associations: Trade organizations that are very specific in purpose

5. Online: Social Media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where networking is constant

To better understand which group fits you best, watch the video below.

 

Networking for Millennials, by a Millennial

This article is from guest blogger and BNI Executive Director Dana Gallagher.

For the first time in American history, three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – all with different work ethics, values, beliefs and experiences are working side-by side.  One generation stands out from the rest because they have become the largest generation in the workforce.  Who are they?  You guessed it… Millennials!

Let’s take a step back. What is a Millennial?  This term refers to the generations born between 1982 and the early 2000’s.  Born in the year 1990, I am proud to say that I, myself am a Millennial.  In this article I will be focusing on how my generation does business, communicates, and networks.

Face-to-face networking will never go out of style.  This leads me to a common misconception; that millennials would rather network with one another via social media than face-to-face. All of my experiences, and everyone I know, have shown this to be the exact opposite. If we had a choice of either type of networking the answer would be face-to-face every time, hands down.  Human interaction is one of the most powerful ways to network and connect with others.

With that being said, getting out to networking events every night and seeing people isn’t always an option.  Lucky for us, we have other means of building relationships when we are unable to meet face-to-face.  So what are some of the other ways we network and how does our different generational attributes effect the way we communicate?

Communication Style:

On a daily basis, I communicate with people approximately ten different ways.  The most common ways are text messaging, group text messages, phone calls, e-mail, Facebook, Facebook group pages, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, FaceTime, and LinkedIn.  Many other millennials use apps, like GroupMe, Voxer, Twitter, Skype, and Kik as a means to meet and connect with other people.  Wait a minute, why do Millennials choose to use all these ways to communicate?  Simply put, it’s quick, easy, and switching tasks helps hold our interest.

While referring to our communication style, informality is key.  For the most part we find it completely acceptable to reach out to other business associates, bosses, and acquaintances via text, LinkedIn, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, or whatever else.  As long as we get in touch with the person we need, why does it matter how we do so?
Building Relationships:

After meeting someone at a networking event, wedding, back yard barbecue, or any other get-together, we will most likely friend them on Facebook, add them on SnapChat, follow them on Instagram, connect with them on LinkedIn, or all of the above.  By having so many resources to connect with each other we are able to build relationships faster (from the mass amounts of information online) and keep our relationships longer because of the ease of staying in touch.  I may not see you for two years but I know you have become engaged, bought a house, went on vacation, and adopted a new dog, all because you friended me on Facebook.  In short, it’s easier for millennials to establish long term relationships.

Team Oriented:

We are a generation that prefers to socialize and work in groups because we grew up in an environment that promoted constant team work.  On a daily basis, our school teachers would have us work in groups to accomplish assignments.  When everyone played their part, we learned that by working together we can achieve more, create a better result, and have fun!  Our grade school teaching style fostered the belief that collaboration is the most effective way to get a job done.

One of the reasons that BNI is so great for millennials is that it accomplishes two things at once.  We are able to socialize in a group setting while also building a network of people who can help accomplish one another’s goals by working together as a team.  There is no better support system for a young entrepreneur or business professional than a group of entrepreneurs, professionals, and field experts that can share their best practices and learn together.

Business Focus:

Our generation is pursuing careers for more than a paycheck and rejecting the old school mentality of the more you work, the more you’re worth.  We believe that success is based on efficiency and results, rather than long hours and harder work.  By completing our work quicker, we are able to get more accomplished throughout the day and fulfill our desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The focus on a healthy work-life balance has caused a change in the beginning stages of networking.  Rather than the typical conversation starter, “Tell me about your business,” you are more likely to hear millennials start a conversation off with, “What do you like to do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Why is that? Well, we’re pickier about the people with whom we do business. Millennials prefer to work alongside people whose values and interests align with their own.

Of course, it goes almost without saying that every person is an individual, so keep in mind that some of the characteristics we’ve discussed may not be applicable to every millennial. However, the information in this article refers to the millennial generation as a whole and the common trends that will help you to network and better communicate with them in professional circles.

 

 

Thanks, But I Don’t Need Your Card

This video is hosted on the Networking for Success YouTube Channel, hosted by Entrepreneur.com.

Imagine you’re at a networking event.

I know, it’s a stretch. But work with me here.

So you’re mixing and mingling and start passing out your business cards like candy. Suddenly, someone hands it back you and says, “No, thanks.” This actually happened to a BNI Member. He wrote to me, astonished, and asked what I would do in his situation. Well, here’s my answer.

 

 

 

If I’m Not Approachable…am I Alienating?

Truth? You might be.

In the first part of this two-part blog, I talked about how to know if you are approachable when it comes to mingling at networking events–because you may not know that you are the one getting in your own way when it comes to meeting new people and kindling business relationships.

If you read the first blog (found here: http://ivanmisner.com/successful-networking-kind/ ) and discovered that the behaviors listed weren’t those you exhibited when networking, you might begin to wonder if you are, in fact, alienating.

Here are some examples of alienating behaviors:

1. A Negative Attitude: Rambling about your rough personal or professional life is off-putting for your future referral partner. Leave your problems at the door of any networking event you attend. If you’re down, don’t bring others down with you, because they might avoid you at future events and others might follow their lead.

2. Closed-Off Body Language: If you have a scowl on your face and your arms crossed over your chest, others will most likely move on to someone more welcoming. Your stance means a lot in your approachability and allows others to walk past you or join in the conversation easily.

3. Incongruence: Inconsistency in what you say and what you do makes a huge difference in people’s perception of whether or not you are approachable or alienating. If you’re reiterating how much you value kindness in others, but speak poorly to a server or hostess at the event, your potential referral partner is going to dismiss you as insincere.

But how can you really tell if you are approachable or alienating? Bring a trusted friend or referral partner with you to your next networking event and observe each other’s body language, tone of voice and words. Afterwards, exchange constructive feedback with the intent of helping each other become better referral partners.

 

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Why Successful Networking is All About You…Kind Of

This is the first in a two part series.

Do you find yourself a networking event, standing alone awkwardly and wondering why you can’t hold a conversation? Do you wonder why others don’t seem interested in talking to you, while those around you are conversing easily and often? You wore the right thing, you have a drink in your hand and clearly you have no one to talk to–so why aren’t people lined around the corner to speak to you?

I hate to be the one to say it, but it has to be said–it might be you. Not the inherent you, not your personality or your reputation; but your body language and behavior can turn a stranger into a referral partner or into just another body in the room. If you want to make this networking thing happen, you have to know–

Are you approachable or alienating?

Here’s how to know if you are APPROACHABLE:

1. Positive Attitude: You smile, laugh and look like you are a pleasant person to talk to. Although this seems ridiculously simple, you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize their frowning or looking bored in conversation. Go look in the mirror and watch how your face changes when you frown and when you smile–you’ll see what a difference it makes!

2. Open Body Language: In the book Networking Like a Pro, I talk about positioning when a person is conversing with others. Instead of talking to someone in a one-on-one conversation, standing closely together with your shoulders facing squarely at one another, make sure your stance allows the room for someone else to approach and join in.

3.Congruence: Conduct yourself as if every person you meet is the host of the event, going above and beyond to make them feel good. Don’t over compliment or lay on the schmooze, but do make a point to encourage others in conversation and seem genuinely interested in them and their business.

 

Next week: Are you alienating?

 

 

 

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.

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