Is It Possible Your Follow-up Tactics Aren’t Doing You Any Favors?

I once had an interesting conversation with an associate who was surprised that she’d gotten flak from a referral source for taking five days to follow up with a prospect that the referral source had referred to her.  My associate explained to me that she doesn’t like to follow up with prospects for four or five days because she doesn’t want the prospect to feel like she’s too eager.

I told my associate that I strongly disagree with her follow-up strategy.  My reasons why are outlined in the following paragraphs . . .

When building relationships, it’s always important not to let much time lapse without following up the first contact. Within twenty-four to forty-eight hours, send your prospect a note expressing your pleasure in communicating with her. It’s still too early, though, to send business literature or make any move toward sales promotion.

Follow up early, but don’t push beyond the prospect’s comfort level. Once the prospect has expressed an interest in your products or services, provide information about them, but don’t force it on her. Continue presenting your products or services, but avoid the hard sell. Focus on fulfilling her needs and interests. Your goal should be to keep your prospect aware of your business without annoying her.

Remember, to secure the long-term loyalty of your prospect and convert her into a customer, you must first build a relationship, and that relationship must develop through the visibility, credibility and profitability stages. It may take a while, but if you’ve selected and briefed your sources well, you’ll speed up the process.

Always, always, always remember to follow up with people, in any situation, at the very least within seventy-two hours. There’s a reason people commonly say that the fortune is in the follow up . . . when you follow up quickly with people, your reputation will benefit, your business will benefit, and eventually your pocketbook will benefit as well.

Do you have any unique and effective ways of following up which have helped you attain success consistently?  If so, I’d love to hear your tactics–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Networking Fundamentals to Boost Your Bottom Line

Today I’d like to share with you the newest networking video from the educational video archive housed within NetworkingNow.com.

Have you ever wondered what the ONE secret to success is in regard to networking for your business? In this video, I reveal the answer to that very question and I also explain four key networking fundamentals which are guaranteed to boost your bottom line.

This video is just one example of the vast array of educational content offered on the NetworkingNow.com website—there are literally hundreds of business and networking downloads available in the site’s online library and you can access all of them for FREE for six months by entering the free subscription code given below.

The free subscription is a gift from BusinessNetworking.com and all you have to do is enter the code (“freesixmonths”) on NetworkingNow.com to gain access to the entire library of content!  Please note that you will be required to enter a credit card number on the site but you will not be billed for the free six month membership subscription.  As subscriptions are based on a recurring system, you will need to end your subscription if you don’t wish to be billed for the second six months.

I always enjoy feedback from BusinessNetworking.com readers, so please leave a comment regarding your thoughts on this video and also let me know what type of downloadable content you most like to access on sites like NetworkingNow.com:

  • Video?
  • Audio?
  • PDF Articles?
  • Digital Books?
  • Something Else? If so, what specifically?

Thanks!

Welcome to International Networking Week®!

This week marks the 8th annual celebration of International Networking Week® which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe.  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach.  If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb 3-7).

CLICK HERE to view a short video about International Networking Week 2014.  Please feel free to share the video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Please share your plans in the comment forum below–thanks!

How to Get an Edge and Stand out in the Networking World

To some businesspeople, networking is something to try when they’re hurting for business.  However, networking is actually a primary strategy for generating business relationships that lead to more referrals.  When done correctly, networking is a proactive strategy for business growth, not a reaction to slow business.

I think the most important single idea in networking is to do what others don’t Doing what others don’t gives you an edge.  It can position you head and shoulders above your competition.  It helps you stand out in a positive way and, when you do, people are attracted to you and your business, and your success grows stronger, deeper and more durable.

 

So go beyond the norm. Take the time to gather information for improving your business by getting straightforward feedback from people.  This will help you identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses so you can take corrective action.  Some more ideas that most people don’t take the time or effort to implement are:

  •  Adopt the attitude of a host at networking mixers
  • Use your influence and professional status to help members of your network solve problems
  • Learn to specifically ask for referrals
  • Take every opportunity to educate yourself on how to better your business and your networking efforts

What is something you do to go beyond the norm and do what most people don’t when it comes to your networking efforts?  There are so many things you can do to stand out from the crowd and I’d really love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

Are You Unintentionally Abusing Your Relationships?

Many people in the United States are celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday today–a time when we get together with friends and family to celebrate all that we’re thankful for.  In thinking about the things I’m grateful for, the meaningful, trusted relationships I’ve built with so many amazing people around the world throughout my networking career are top of mind.  These relationships are invaluable to me and I know that investing in them and always respecting them is the key to maintaining trust and reaping the maximum benefits from my networking efforts.

In light of this, I thought I’d share this short video where I tell a story about what can happen when people don’t respect their relationships with their fellow networkers.  Abusing the relationship is probably the biggest mistake people can make when networking . . . not following up, confusing networking with direct selling, and premature solicitation are all faux pas when it comes to networking but abusing the relationship is the worst faux pas of all.

The fact is, we all screw up when we first start networking–I know I did!  The ticket to networking success, however, is learning–recognizing what we’ve done wrong so that we can understand how to do it right.

Do you have a story about how you learned from a networking faux pas you made in the past, or from being on the receiving end of someone else’s faux pas? 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!

Successful Networkers Build Deep Relationships–Know Your Contacts

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, the fact is it will simply never be very powerful.  In this video, I talk about why investing the time and effort into really getting to know your contacts and building deep, trusted relationships with them is key to networking success.

Do you know your contacts’ hobbies? Do you know their family members’ names? If your answer is no, this means you’re not delving beneath the surface with your contacts and you’re not building fruitful relationships–you need to get to know your contacts much better.

Watch this short video now to learn how to build deeper, mutually beneficial relationships by using the GAINS Exchange, get relationship-building success strategies used by international sales expert & keynote speaker Harvey Mackay, and more.

Do you have a method or a tactic for getting to know your contacts better which has really seemed to work for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  I’m always interested in the tactics that networkers around the world have successfully used to achieve networking success and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Want Visibility, Credibility, & Profitability? First You Need One Thing . . . Relationships

I’ve mentioned the VCP Process® time and time again throughout the years on this blog site because we simply can’t achieve success at networking without strategically building visibility, earning credibility, and then ultimately gaining profitability.  The key to all three of these things, however, is found in one thing . . . relationships.

In this short video, my good friend Lisa Nichols and I explain how building quality relationships is the single most powerful thing you can do to position yourself for success and fulfillment in every area of your life.  As Lisa puts it, when you nurture your relationships with good intention, people will innately want to give back to you.  Lisa talks about how she has built her entire business through investing in quality relationships (as have I) and because of this, her business has grown by double digits each and every year.

Lisa and I are a perfect example of how building quality relationships with others can enrich your life and your business in amazing ways.  Over the years since we first met at a TLC Conference, we have developed a deep respect for one another and an irreplaceable friendship through our mutual dedication to helping each other in any way we can.

Watch the video now and think about how you might take specific actions in the coming weeks to invest in building quality relationships with those around you . . . who would you most like to approach and ask, “How can I help you? . . . Is there something I might be able to do for you in order to help you meet your goals?”

I would love to hear your feedback on this video or how you are going to take action in the near future toward nurturing your new and existing relationships.  Please leave your ideas and thoughts in the comment forum below–AND . . . I’ll send a surprise gift to the first ten people who add to their comment the correct answer as to where another of my good friends (Bob) is hiding in this video.  He may not be so easy to spot this time but I promise he’s there just begging to be noticed!  (NOTE: To ensure you receive your gift, you’ll need to send your full name and mailing address to Erin@bni.com after you leave your comment in the comment forum below).  Thanks in advance for your input and participation!

Bob2

Also, Bob says he really recommends that you click here (www.MotivatingTheMasses.com) to read more about Lisa and the inspiring work she does on a daily basis. 

 

‘Why People Resist Networking’ Series: Part III–Impatience Resulting in Early Failure


In this third installment of the “Why People Resist Networking” Video Series, I discuss another popular theme surrounding why people tend to resist networking – impatience.  If new networkers don’t see immediate payoff from their efforts, they become impatient, inevitably resulting in failure early on in the networking process.

Quite often, people simply don’t understand the value of taking time to build fruitful relationships and, like it or not, fruitful relationships are the cornerstone of effective networking.

In this short video, I show a Power Point slide which offers eye-opening proof of the payoff that comes from being patient and consistently putting in the necessary time each week to diligently and strategically build networking relationships. 

I highly encourage you to watch the video to find out why you owe it to yourself (not to mention the business you’ve put so much hard work into) to adopt a systematic and patient approach to networking.  Remember, when you approach networking like a long distance marathon runner, you will reap sweet rewards; if you approach it like a sprinter, simply trying to reach the end as quickly as possible, chances are you’ll end up breaking your ankle (so to speak) and you will have failed before you ever have a chance to even reach the finish line–needless to say, there’s no prize in that.

After watching the video, I’d love for you to leave your feedback, thoughts, and/or comments in the comment forum below. I would particularly like to hear your networking success stories (e.g., connections you never thought you’d be able to make yet achieved through your diligent networking efforts, business growth statistics attesting to the positive impact your networking efforts have made on your business, etc.). Thanks!

Speak to Be Heard and Hear to Know How to Speak

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  This is so true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications; and when it comes to sales for your business and growing your business through referral marketing, this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Of course, not all sales transactions require incredible relationships or communication (e.g., online shopping), yet even big box stores like Wal-Mart–not known for warm customer relations–illustrate the value they place on communication and relationships by employing a visitor host to greet customers at the entrance of their stores.

Sara Minnis, a friend of mine, has often dealt with a phobia many sales people face within the sales process by coaching salespeople who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer.  She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or on a phone conversation.”  This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer.  She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.”  To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs her communication toward finding a fit between her product and the buyer’s need.  Focusing on being liked only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Sellers in strong relationships with their clients have a competitive advantage because the client feels connected or bonded to the seller.  The single most important tool sellers use to establish a connecting bond with another person is communication.  In fact, building a bonded relationship is completely dependent on having quality communications with another individual.

The art and science of communication is more than talking and hearing words.  There are many strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard.  If you can communicate at a level that matches the customer’s style rather than your own, you will be well on your way to masterful sales conversations.

Masters of sales today assume more of a consultative perspective to their selling work.  In fact, many box retail stores use the term “sales consultant” to describe the store clerk of yesterday.  Master sales consultants know that their ability to communicate is critical to selling client solutions, because rapport and trust, the cornerstones of selling, are built or lost based on communication.

So what can you do this week to improve your communication skills in order to speak to be heard and hear to know how to speak (e.g., joining a Toastmasters club, reading books like Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment forum below

Seeking Engagement: A Critical Step for Networking Groups

Engagement involves a promise and an action.  In order to achieve success in your group of networking relationships, you and your relationships must promise to support one another and then take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.

There are many ways that you can become engaged.  Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network?  Have you taken the time to educate them regularly on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top of mind in the event they meet someone with a need for what you supply?  Have you taken the time to become educated on the key features of your networking relationships’ businesses so that you can do the same?

The higher the number of people in your network who are engaged in these activities, the more likely it is that the entire group will be generating more referrals.  The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

Another way to be actively engaged and educated about each others’ businesses is to do regular and consistent meetings.  Over and over, I see that business owners who have regular one-to-one meetings with their business networking relationships tend to both give AND get more referrals.

Lastly, are you focusing on your “elevator pitch”?  The best way to ensure your referral sources are going to remember what you do is to focus on communicating your business to them by breaking it down into laser-specific elements.  Sharp-shoot your pitch, don’t shotgun it.  In each of your regular one-to-one meetings, talk about one key element, product, or benefit of what you do.

According to Psychology Today, research has found that people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not.  Furthermore, they state that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values of the organization, and recognition.”  There’s research behind my recommending reciprocal engagement between you and your referral partners.  In fact, it’s critical to your success–and theirs.

This week, think about new ways in which you can support your networking partners in order to promote engagement within your networking group.  I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

 

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

No Time for Small Talk

People often mistakenly perceive what goes on at networking meetings and events as making small talk with a bunch of strangers.  Real business networking , however, isn’t about making small talk at all; rather it is about building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with other business professionals and small talk isn’t generally something that helps further this aim.  Serious networkers, recognizing that they have limited time to introduce themselves and convey the essence of what they do, generally avoid lengthy small talk. 

 

If you want to build your business through word of mouth, you must give a message that’s heard by others.  You need to create a positive message and deliver it effectively–who are you, what do you offer, and to whom do you offer it?  When you properly position yourself with an effective message instead of trying to connect through making small talk, you save time because others quickly understand  what your company represents and offers.

Take the time to plan your introduction and prepare some concise and descriptive overviews of your products or services.  Then, when you meet someone for the first time, you can give him a good explanation of what you have to offer.  I recommend that you develop several scripts that you can readily use when attending networking meetings.

Show pride in who you are and what you do.  As an example of this, I often mention a fantastic quote from Martha Taft.  When she was a young girl in elementary school, she was asked to introduce herself to a group of people.  “My name is Martha Bowers Taft,” she said.  “My great-grandfather was President of the United States, my grandfather was a United States Senator, my daddy is Ambassador to Ireland, and I am a Brownie.”

If you have honed your message and have crafted an introduction which has been very effective for you at networking functions, I encourage you to share it in the comment forum below and to explain how you went about constructing your message and your introduction.  You never know who you’ll help by sharing your insights. Thanks!

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