Can Your Business Serve the Greater Good?

A friend of mine once said, “If we could get every single business person in the world, every single entrepreneur, to play their part, we could get on top of most of the worlds problems.”

That friend was Richard Branson, and I took his message to heart. It made me think about what I could do through BNI to make an impact on the globe and sent me on an introspective journey about being a business owner and the responsibility we had to serve not only our customers, but society as a whole.

What I came up with are four ways to help your business find direction and purpose in helping others, whether it be in your local area or in the global community.

3 Tips for Putting the Butterfly Effect of Networking in Motion

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

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

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

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

  1. Diversity in networking.

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

  1. Farming mentality.

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

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

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

A Burning Question for Richard Branson

Last year, My wife Beth and I posted a question on Facebook in search of the most creative and interesting answer.  The question was: “If you had an opportunity to ask Sir Richard Branson one question, what would it be?”

In this video, I reveal the best, most interesting question that someone responded with:

“What venture or company do you wish you had started instead of someone else, or what business did you have a chance to invest in but didn’t and now regret not investing in it?”

I go on to reveal the equally interesting (if not more interesting) answer to this question which I got lucky enough to receive directly from Sir Richard Branson himself during a visit to Necker Island.

Watch the video now for Branson’s answer . . . and, hey, you never know–perhaps this will be the answer to a question you get during a game of Trivial Pursuit somewhere down the road, in which case you’ll be darn glad you watched this video! 😉

I’m curious– what would YOU ask Richard if you could ask him anything?  As long as it’s not something like, “Richard, will you adopt me (even though I’m 57) and make me independently wealthy so I don’t have to work for the rest of my life?” (Ha, ha . . . :-)), then I’d love to hear what questions you come up with!  Please leave your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The Butterfly Effect of Networking Explained

The Butterfly Effect is part of chaos theory, which is a part of mathematics.  It basically proposes that the flapping of the wings of a butterfly alter something extremely minute but which starts a domino effect of altering one thing after another until something finally gets altered which actually changes the weather.   So what does the Butterfly Effect have to do with networking?  Take 5 minutes to watch this video and find out!  I tell a pretty powerful story about how the Butterfly Effect caused some very unexpected things to happen in my life, resulting in an amazing experience.

As I’ve mentioned in a couple of my recent video blog posts, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking.  Today’s video is one of several short videos I’ll be posting which cover networking topics we will be focusing on in the book.  These videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and, ultimately, we want to gather stories from networkers like you who have experience with the different topics I discuss in these videos.

If you have a story relating to the ‘Butterfly Effect of Networking’ which demonstrates the power of this concept in a significant or remarkable way, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Richard Branson’s ‘Plan B’ Initiative for a Better World–How You Can Make a Difference

[Note – unfortunately, there was a lot of wind during this recording.  We did our best to edit it out.  Thanks for understanding.]

I mentioned in a previous blog, “Virgin Territory,” that I recently visited Necker Island and had the opportunity to spend some time with Richard Branson.  During that visit, Richard was kind enough to take a few minutes to record this video with me and share what his ‘Plan B’ initiative is all about.

The ‘Plan B’ concept aims to bring businesses together in a united effort to achieve greater social responsibility and a better, more sustainable planet.   Watch the video now to find out how you can be a part of the ‘B Team’ and play a part in making the world a better place for us all to live in.

What are your thoughts on this concept?  Do you share Richard’s ideas about the importance of businesses placing higher importance on social responsibility and bettering the environment?  What might you be able to do in your business within the coming weeks to bring it more in line with the ‘Plan B’ concept?  Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Virgin Territory

I recently spent a week on Necker Island with Richard Branson and it was an amazing experience, just as it was when I was there a few years ago right about the time I first started writing this blog.  During that initial visit to Necker, I wrote about the Butterfly Effect of Networking for the first time ever.

Branson and Misner Walking CroppedDuring this visit, Richard told me a very interesting story about his early days with Virgin Records.  He was 20 years old and publishing a student magazine.  He wanted to give students a better deal on records and decided to start a new business.  “Slipped Disc” was initially one of his favorite ideas for a business name but when one of the people working with him suggested that they were all “complete virgins in business,” Richard decided on the spot to call the new business Virgin Records.

Once he had the name in place, he moved forward with the process of getting a trademark on it.  He put in a trademark application through the UK trademark office for the name “Virgin Records.”  However, he immediately encountered a problem; the trademark office denied the filing stating that the term “Virgin” was, according to them, “rude!”  Richard shared with me that he continually tried for nearly four years to get them to approve a trademark on his company because, the fact was, without it the brand was in danger of being copied.   Finally, out of frustration, he looked in the dictionary for all possible definitions of the word “virgin” and discovered a definition that might assist him in his plight to gain a trademark.   Armed with his newly discovered definition, he contacted the trademark office yet again and explained to them that according to the English dictionary, the term “virgin” was not rude.  In fact, when he cited the dictionary definition of “virgin” as “pure,” the frustrated bureaucrats had no choice but to relent.  That’s the story of how Richard Branson finally received the trademark on his iconic company – The Virgin Group.

After sharing this story with me, Branson said, “Brands are very important.  You either need to be very creative or you need to spend a lot of money to build the brand name.”   He explained that Virgin was one of the brand names that was really creative and that’s why it worked from the start.

There are now hundreds of companies within the “Virgin” brand.   I’ve personally used Virgin Atlantic, Virgin America, Virgin Blue, and Virgin Hotels (to name a few) and as a customer of each of these companies, my experiences have been either good or great.  If you’ve been a patron/customer of any of the Virgin companies, I’d love for you to leave a comment in the forum below offering your feedback on which of the Virgin companies you’ve used and what your experiences were like–do you think the global image/reputation of the Virgin brand factored into your decision to give your business to a Virgin company as opposed to their competitors?  Why or why not?  I would love to hear your thoughts–thanks!

The Power of Undivided Attention

When you’re at a busy networking event, sometimes it’s easy to fall into the trap of not giving people your undivided attention.  However, making every effort to avoid that trap and to, instead, be fully present and focused on each conversation you have will no doubt help you make a huge impression on people.

In this short video, I tell the story of how I will never forget the impression Sir Richard Branson made on me in this regard.  The first time I met him, we had a brief conversation about raising children and I mentioned my son Trey.  Months later, when we met again at a party, I was standing with my son and Richard approached me and asked, “Is this your son Trey?”

I was shocked that Richard remembered my son’s name from the brief conversation we’d had months earlier and it showed that he had obviously given me his complete undivided attention during our verbal exchange.  This was extremely impressive to me and though I already thought highly of him for his entrepreneurial achievements, this made me think very highly of him in regard to his character as a person in addition.

We all know that when people are impressed with us and like us on a personal level, they are much more apt to want to help us; so, think about the changes it would make within your business if you were to give laser-point focus to each and every individual at the next networking event you attend.

From this point forward, make your best effort to give those you interact with your undivided attention so you can really connect on a personal level.  I guarantee you’ll begin to make a memorable impact on each and every person with whom you speak.

What can you do this week to show those you network with and interact with in all areas of your life that you are giving them your undivided attention? Maybe turn your mobile phone off and put it out of sight while you’re conversing?  Perhaps you could try listening more attentively and focusing on maintaining eye contact so you’re not distracted by what’s going on around you?  Please leave your ideas in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

 

What Richard Branson Can Teach You about Networking

I recently had a phone conversation with someone who was asking me about the importance of eye contact when networking.  I answered his question with an interesting story about Richard Branson and I’d like to share that story with you here because I think it demonstrates a point that’s definitely worth remembering.

One of the many intriguing things about Richard Branson is that he has this laser-focus eye contact.  When he is talking to you, he’s not looking to his left, looking to his right, or anywhere else other than directly at you–he gives you his full attention.

I remember talking with Richard, one time in particular, about kids and raising kids.  I was telling him about my son, Trey, who was fifteen at the time and very sharp but not as committed to school as he could be.

Six months later, I saw Richard at a party and introduced him to my son.  Branson remembered who Trey was from our previous conversation, and I have this photograph of him, where he has this laser eye contact with my son (see picture at right), and he kept that laser eye contact with Trey for three or four minutes straight while he was talking to him. All these people were around, vying for Branson’s attention, but he was completely focused on my son during their conversation. Branson wasn’t intense in terms of his speaking—he was actually very relaxed—but he was impressively intense in his focus. The only person in that room, during that three or four-minute time span, was my son. Here’s a guy who never went to college, and he was telling my son. “Go to college. I spoke to your dad! You can do better. I have faith in you!”

Now, keep in mind, Trey doesn’t get impressed by anybody (or at least, like a typical teenager, he certainly doesn’t make a habit of showing that he’s impressed–if you have teenagers, I’m sure you’re more than used to being responded to with a shrug, a bored expression, and the words “it was okay,” or “yeah, (so and so) was cool, I guess . . .”   ;-)) .  Actually, I don’t think my son even understood who Branson was at the time of their conversation but I asked him afterward, “What did you think of that conversation?”  His very uncharacteristic response was, “That was amazing!”  I’m more than confident that what really did it for Trey, what really impressed him, was how, for those few minutes, he had Branson’s undivided attention.

I’ve had a chance to see Branson several times now, and he’s just a master at giving people his undivided attention. After his conversation with Trey, when he moved to the next person, the next conversation, he gave that person his undivided attention.

The thing is, giving people your undivided attention is one of the most important things you can do in order to become a master networker, and making a concentrated effort to maintain eye contact when engaging a conversation is imperative in order to demonstrate to somebody that they are receiving your undivided attention.

So, the next time you’re networking with someone and distractions surrounding you are tempting your eyes to stray from the person you’re speaking with, think of Richard Branson and remember to keep a laser focus on the person and conversation at hand–it’s one of the things that will make you a true master.

Do you have an interesting experience about networking and eye contact?  If so, share it here.

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