Three Things Your Business Degree Didn’t Teach You

graduatingOne common misconception among business people, especially those new to the field, is that a bachelor’s degree in marketing or business will provide all the necessary skills to own, operate, or work in a business of any size.

Time and again I’ve seen men and women struggle in business, flabbergasted because they followed the steps taught to them as undergraduates. It isn’t until they get involved in post-degree programs specifically geared toward advanced business techniques, or professional organizations like BNI or the Referral Institute, that they pick up these three concepts that are truly paramount in business.

 

Social Capital

Relationships, and their potential value, are vital in business. These relationships can be in our personal or professional networks, but both can lead to business opportunities, quality referrals, new and innovative ideas, someone to bounce ideas off of, and ultimately, increased business success.

As you build relationships, identify their strengths and weaknesses and focus on fostering the weaknesses. While it can be counter-intuitive to focus on anything other than your business when trying to help it grow, putting effort into your relationships will ultimately lead to greater business success.

 

Emotional Intelligence

The ability to identify, assess and control one’s own emotions, as well as an astute awareness of the emotions of others improves communication in all facets of life and can up one’s connection game. In fact, studies show that a higher emotional quotient (EQ) can help develop more social capital.

When you can learn how individuals around you respond to you, and cater your interactions to the individual person, you will see the positive response received hit the roof. While not rocket science, it can be challenging, so as you work to develop your EQ don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t happen immediately.

 

Networking

You knew it was going here. This critically important business skill is grossly under-represented in higher education. This proficiency combines the elements of emotional intelligence and social capital, and is an important tool to have in your wheelhouse.

The vast majority of businesspeople say that in some form or fashion, they have gained some success through networking, and this isn’t a coincidence. Those who haven’t found networking success likely haven’t built a strong foundation of social capital and emotional intelligence, as networking is simply the mechanism used to combine word-of-mouth techniques and social capital.

 

In the same way businesses who refuse to adopt cutting-edge technology begin to fall to the wayside and face difficulties, business school graduates (and the schools they hail from) who do not adopt these lessons into their curriculum in some ways will quickly find themselves outdated and outpaced.

Are there other vital business skills you feel aren’t taught in general business education? How did you pick up those skills? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave your comment in the forum below! Thanks!

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?

In this video, I discuss how to identify and prepare for the appropriate time to ask for a favor within the context of a business relationship.

I explain how the concept of social capital is a key factor when it comes to asking favors and I tell a personal story where a business associate of mine named Alex went about building social capital with me in the absolute perfect way.

Watch the video now to learn the ONE thing you need to have with someone before you ask a favor of them and, also, how to spot when it would be a big mistake for you say yes to favors when you’re asked to do them by other people.

Do you have a story about how you built social capital with someone in a great way, how someone else built social capital with you in a memorable way, or how someone asked you for a favor when it wasn’t the right time?  I’d love to hear these stories as well as any other stories you might have that are related to this topic. Please share them in the comment forum below–thanks!

Building Social Capital Is the Groundwork for Future Payoff

In a video blog I posted recently, I talk about the Law of Reciprocity which is one aspect of social capital theory.  In today’s video, I specifically address what social capital is and why investing in social capital is one of the best investments you can make in order to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network.

My friend Alex, whom I mention in this video, is a master at building social capital and there isn’t a person who knows him who wouldn’t help him in an instant in any way they could if  he asked them to.  Alex has an expansive support system comprised of a diverse array of people who are all willing and eager to help him succeed and it’s all because he dedicates himself 100% to investing in the relationships he builds with those around him.  If you could use a support system like Alex has (which I already know you could because we ALL could), then start creating ways to build social capital with those in your network at every opportunity.

Perhaps you’ve already got a story about social capital that’s similar to the one I share in this video about Alex, or a story about how you’ve built great social capital with someone who is now just itching to help you in any way they can.  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!

Leverage Your Achievements to Heighten Your Success

Success may be a lasting accomplishment, but the thrill of success is transitory; much of the joy is the journey.  Once it’s over, we begin to wonder, “What’s next?”  This feeling of emptiness cues us to step up and get ready for the next level because success goes on as long as we keep building new steps.  We graduate from one level and, equipped with what we’ve learned, go on to new accomplishments in the next.  Each accomplishment becomes something we can stand on to reach higher.  We can leverage our success.

Small successes can add up to major leverage.  Each experience, each skill learned or honed, each new technology adopted multiplies the results of our efforts.  The achievements leveraged can be our own, or those of other contributors in a team effort.  Those who work alone against tall odds to accomplish what others might consider mundane achievements often end up amassing powerful capabilities.  However they are combined, the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts if used to full effect.

The resources we find most useful as levers depend on both our immediate and our long-term goals.  Many are specialized, closely identified with a particular field or profession or industry.  Trial lawyers, politicians, and motivational speakers cultivate forensic skills, the ability to sway audiences.  This is a vital resource that can be transferred from one project to another, even in different fields.  The same goes for marketing skills, management expertise, and most leadership skills.  The more success we have achieved, the more easily we can apply these resources toward achieving new ends.

As a lever, success is also portable to others.  We can use it not only to help ourselves reach our own goals but to also help our associates, friends, colleagues, family members, even worthy strangers reach their goals.  Success contains many valuable and transferable components: experience, skills, wisdom, insight, confidence, enthusiasm, energy, money, reputation, sometimes just the outsize influence of fame.  These assets can be mobilized in pursuit of different ends, including the needs of others.  All that is necessary is to choose a worthy goal and turn the momentum of success in a new direction.

Networking is a structured system for leveraging success and thereby sharing its benefits.  Helping others achieve their goals not only leverages a person’s success for the benefit of others, but also brings the leverage full circle: what goes around comes around.  Although it springs from an initial good given without expectation of recompense, an altruistic act for a network contact accrues social capital.  The benefits provided eventually come back to the giver.

The ultimate leveraging of success is the philanthropy of those whose accomplishments have made them rich and who look for ways to give back to individuals who have helped them and to the community that nurtured their success.  Their rewards come not in the form of superfluous money or fame but in the prosperity of those they help and in the goodwill and approval of the community.  This is success of a whole new order–social immortality.

No matter where you are in your success journey, it’s important to remember that the joy really is in the journey There will be plenty of times when we not only don’t immediately achieve the success we’re aiming for, we actually end up completely failing at what we were trying to do; and that’s when it’s crucial to keep in mind what Henry Ford once said–“Failure is the opportunity to begin again intelligently.”  In other words, the experience we get in our journey to success is truly invaluable and that experience is what will end up fueling our greatest successes.

Success is a topic that has so many different aspects and perspectives to it and I’d really, really like to hear the thoughts you have as a result of reading this blog post.  Whether you have a story about your journey to success, what success means to you, the experience you’ve gotten/success you ultimately achieved from a past “failure,” or how you’ve leveraged your success to help others, I’d love for you to share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks in advance for your input and I’m looking forward to hearing from you!

NetTime: How Much Time Should You Spend Networking?

The secret to getting more business through networking is. . . spending more time doing it!   OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things.  However, devoting the necessary time is the starting point.  So how much networking time (or NetTime) should you spend developing your personal network and what kind of results can you expect to see?

Based on a survey that I helped to write and conduct of over 12,000 business professionals from every populated continent in the world, we finally have a definitive answer to those questions.  The study found that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.3 hours a week participating in networking activities.  On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.  

Clearly, those people who spent very little time engaged in the process felt that networking was not an effective way to build their business.  As with many other aspects of life, you clearly reap what you sow.  It’s no wonder that the people who didn’t invest as much time also did not realize as much reward.  This demonstrates the direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you will likely realize from it.

The typical person in the survey who spent a little over six hours a week networking generated almost 47 percent of all their business through referrals and networking activities.  Of the 12,000 global participants in the survey, women spent less time networking (6.19 hours compared to 6.44 for men), yet generated a higher percentage of their business through the process (49.44 percent compared to 43.96 percent for men).

Why would women spend less time and get a higher percentage of their business from referrals than men?  Well, we discovered that men tended to be more transactional in their networking activities.  That is they were more likely than women to be focused on the “business first and the relationship second.”  On the other hand, women were more likely to be relational in their networking activities.  In other words, they were more likely than men to “focus on the relationship first and do the business second.”

An emphasis on relationships first was clearly and undeniably a key factor in determining whether people were going to identify  networking as having played a role in their success. When we looked at the responses from all the participants who said that networking had played a role in their success and then compared them to those people who focus on relationships first, we discovered that the majority of respondents who felt they’ve achieved success through networking also felt that it was better to build the relationship first and then focus on the business.  Consequently, regardless of gender, business professionals who focused on the relationship first and the business second tended to do better than those business people who focused on the business first.

In other words, relationships beat transactions when it came to networking.  The reason that women seem to have done better in the global study was that women tended to be more relational then men.

Those who skip the relationship building and attempt to establish an “all business” interaction often discover that trust and goodwill are more than just window dressing – they are part of the social capital that energizes a mutually rewarding business relationship.  People who bypass relationship building are more likely to feel that networking has not contributed to their success, and they are probably right – because they’re doing it wrong or at least not doing it enough.

You may be reading this article and thinking – OK, I now know that I need to be spending at least 6 ½ hours a week networking.  Well, that’s true IF you want to be average (and what successful business person wants to be average)!   If on the other hand, you’d like to be above average – you need to devote more time than that to the cause.  The optimum amount of NetTime is more likely to be 8-10 hours a week if you want to be one of those people that are generating well over half their business from referrals.

How much NetTime do you spend each week?  More?  Less? and what percentage of business (total) do you get from your networking efforts?  Comment below.

4 Steps to Building Social Capital

Social capital, otherwise known as the value behind your social contacts, can be an extremely important resource in both business and life.  If you take as much care in raising and investing your social capital as you do your financial capital, you’ll experience benefits that can greatly enrich your life as well as multiply your material returns many times over.

In this short video, I explain that you don’t have to purposely become a networker to reap the benefits of social capital and I outline the four key steps to successfully building social capital.

Do you have a standout story about how investing in your social capital significantly paid off for you?  If so, please share it in the comments section–I’d love to hear about it!

Winning or Losing, Trying or Quitting

I met with my good friend Dr. Mark Goulston for dinner recently.  Casually, over our meal he said something that made me reach into my pocket and scribble it down on the back of one of my business cards.  He said:

We have much less control over winning or losing at something than we do over trying or quitting at something.

If you always try, you can eventually win.  If you always quit, you can never win.

I loved this statement and it completely resonated with me and what I’ve seen in relation to people being successful at networking or at anything for that matter.

When people give up (even in their thoughts), it’s ‘game-over.’  I’ve always thought that I may not be the most successful man in the room or the smartest man in the room, but I’m pretty confident that I’m the most persistent man in the room.  That commitment to “trying” has helped me succeed.  I think it is the one thing that consistently helps anyone have long term success.

The whole process must begin with the old axiom – if you think you can or you think you can’t… you’ll be right.

When have you seen this in your life or someone close to you?

Social Capital Taught in College?

UniversityOfLaVerne

About a year ago, I posted a blog called:  “Networking, a Soft Science? Only to College Professors!”  OK, I’ll admit it–I was on a rant about how we don’t teach networking in colleges or universities.  But in my defense, there were many, many, people who identified with this frustration according to the numerous comments posted on that blog.

Today, I’m here to tell you that there may actually be a change on the horizon.  Yes, a university dean who believes that social capital is a relevant topic in business.  “Not possible,” you say?  Well, that’s what I thought, too, until I met Ibrahim Helou, the new dean of the School of Business & Public Management at the University of LaVerne.

Ibrahim "Abe" Helou

Ibrahim “Abe” Helou

As crazy as this may sound, he actually believes that emotional intelligence and social capital are relevant topics to cover in business school.  To make this even more amazing, Helou’s background is in accounting and finance. Wow, I don’t know what to say. This just shakes up my whole world view about academia.

According to Helou, business should focus on issues relating to long-term organizational sustainability.  He says that the “three pillars” of organizational sustainability are: people, planet and prosperity.

The “people” part includes long-term employment, social capital and empowerment.  The planet involves social and ethical responsibility and prosperity is about the long-term financial success of the organization.

Did you notice that “long-term” is a recurring theme here?  I did.  He believes that there has been an overemphasis on short-term profits to address monthly or quarterly revenue reporting in corporations.  This short-term view has helped lead us into some of the current financial issues we are experiencing today.

Well, Dr. Helou, I’m impressed, especially with your interest in social capital and emotional intelligence.  Now all you need to do is convince the faculty.  Let me know how that works out for you.  🙂

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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