Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner®
Giving Tuesday

Infinite Giving on Giving Tuesday

I have asked Julian Lewis to write a guest blog for my website.  Julian is one of my co-authors of the book, Infinite Giving.  Today, he is sharing the topic of “Giving Tuesday”, which is occurring in the USA tomorrow. Even though Julian is from Great Britain, and never heard about “Giving Tuesday” before, he is truly an expert on giving year-round.

As one of the co-authors of the book, “Infinite Giving”, you would expect me to be excited by “Giving Tuesday”, and I am. I am excited because for lots of people it is a reminder of the way we should live our lives every day. In a way, it is sad that we need a day for giving. However, I am a realist and I know that life is not one smooth path and we all need reminders from time to time.

The book, “Infinite Giving” was written by two Brits and a Yank. As a guest on The Yank’s Blog, I have to say “Giving Tuesday” is not a big thing in Britain. That said, nor was “Black Friday”, “Small Business Saturday”, and “Cyber Monday” years ago, and they are now. So, I suspect that “Giving Tuesday” will follow on. Hence, I am interested to see how “Giving Tuesday” develops.

I know that for many there are quite a few days that people practice giving throughout the year. For people who understand the concept of “Infinite Giving”, every day is an opportunity to give and to gain. I think to provide “Giving Tuesday” some balance it would be better described as “Givers Gain Tuesday”. Givers Gain® is the philosophy of BNI®, and the subject of our book focused on how you make giving infinite with The Seven Principles of Givers Gain®.

Givers Gain is more than a phrase—it’s a way of living one’s life. It’s a perspective to view and interact with the world. It’s an attitude, not an expectation. When it’s applied properly, it will change your life and when it changes enough lives, it will change the world.

When we give others gain, everyone can give something which means also everyone can gain. Just imagine a day where you know that you have something to give and at the same time you will be in receipt of a gift. Then start to imagine that is every day, not just one day in November or December. Let your imagination go wild and see what the world now looks like with all this giving in it. Giving truly can be infinite and what the philosophy of Givers Gain can achieve is also infinite.

What are you going to give? Here are some ideas.

  • Give your ears to somebody who needs to talk
  • Give you time to help a neighbour
  • Give your contacts to recommend a quality supplier
  • Give your knowledge to upskill someone you work with
  • Give your influence to change people view
  • Give your spare funds as a donation to the BNI Foundation

So if you have not yet started your “Infinite Giving”, today is the day to start. Continue on tomorrow and then the next day, do it on purpose for over 20 days and it will become a habit.

There are so many things we can give each and every day. One act of giving matched with one act of gaining can make a difference to the world. Once everyone in the world embraces an “Infinite Giving” mindset the problems of the world can melt away. Let’s all use “Giving Tuesday” to start a chain reaction. 

Gratitude Effect

Thoughts on The Gratitude Effect on Thanksgiving

I have asked Greg Davies to write a guest blog for my website. Greg is one of my co-authors of the book, Infinite Giving“.  He is sharing the topic of “Thanksgiving”, which is a holiday occurring in the USA today. Even though Greg is from Great Britain, and never has celebrated Thanksgiving before, he is truly an expert on the gratitude effect.

This is a bit of a weird one, a blog about Thanksgiving from the co-author of Infinite Giving, the Seven Principles of Givers Gain, which was written by Two Brits and a Yank. Why is that weird, I hear you ask? Well, I can easily discuss the gratitude effect as explained in our book. However, I am firmly in the “Brits” camp and have not attended a single thanksgiving celebration in my entire life (as we don’t celebrate it in the UK). I found myself researching this iconic holiday for the first time. Here is Ivan’s Thanksgiving message from last year. Now at this point, I roll out the elementary school presentation.

The First Thanksgiving

In 1621, 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims gave thanks for a successful harvest with a feast that lasted for at least 3 days, etc etc. Fast forward a few hundred years and we have Turkey, Mash, Pumpkin Pie, and the now infamous Black Friday. What I would much rather do, is point out that the “First Thanksgiving” was far from it.

Yes, it is the most referenced and the one that was recounted by attendee Edward Winslow in the American tradition and yes….well….maybe yes, it was the first where Pilgrims and Native Americans sat down and shared a meal (the jury is still out on that one), but the fact is those at the Plymouth Plantation would regularly give thanks for many different gifts that were bestowed upon them. The early Pilgrims would offer days of thanks for blessings such as military victory, end of a drought, recovery of a sick community member, and in this case, a successful harvest. They had built into their culture that when something good happens you need to take time to recognise it and say thank you.

The gratitude effect is not new-age, it’s science.

We cover this in the book, Chapter 11 Principle 7, The Gratitude Effect. There are some wonderful examples in the book of studies that show just how powerful saying “thank you” can be.

Gratitude, like so many other principles of success, is simple, but not easy.

The Pilgrims built gratitude into their religion and daily lives, it became a pillar of their belief and a cornerstone of their community, and for us to adopt this simple act will take a habit defining decision.

The gratitude effect requires a life-long journey of developing our ability to be grateful.

While the above may sound a little heavy, the actual effort involved in giving genuine gratitude is minuscule, but to begin with, it just feels weird. Try crossing your arms the other way, if you normally go left over right, go right over left or vice versa, SEE! IT JUST FEELS WEIRD. This has nothing to do with one way being right and the other wrong, it is just because your neuropathways have formed, and by doing it the other way, you are forging a new path.

That right there is the point, we must choose to forge a new path. We must accept that it may feel strange to begin with, but stick with it and recognise all of the wonderful things that are happening to us and say thank you. Then, a new habit has been formed.

The gratitude effect doesn’t take much effort and costs little or nothing.

I am thankful for the fact that I was asked to write this blog. I am thankful that in the single most challenging year that we as a planet will (hopefully) face in our lifetime, I have forged some of the strongest friendships, met some of the most inspirational people, and been touched by the light of human kindness like I never have been before. I hope that one day, people will give thanks for the difference I have made to them, because the real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? Happy Thanksgiving from England, the original home of the Pilgrims.

first date

Love at First Date

Someone recently asked me how I knew Elisabeth was my soulmate after our first date. I’ve told the story many times and I cover it a bit in the book, Givers Gain, but I don’t think I’ve ever written it down as one story so here it is:

I first met Elisabeth in 1986. It was at a BNI Leadership Team training I conducted in LA (Los Angeles). I vividly remember meeting her. She was young (23) and very motivated and I could see why the group elected her the President. I also recognized that she was very smart and she was… gorgeous. Although I was undeniably attracted to her – I was also in a relationship and didn’t connect with her again for two years.

In that time, unbeknownst to me, she moved from LA to Prescott, Arizona (many hours away). I was scheduled to speak in Phoenix (about 2 – 3 hours from Prescott) and out of the blue she called me. Now in 1988, I was no longer in that relationship and when she called, she said, “I don’t know if you remember me, but we met in LA a couple years ago.” My heart pounded but I calmly said, “Yes, yes, I remember you, Elisabeth.” She told me that her chapter knew had she met me and they asked her if she would call me to see if I would “swing by” Prescott to speak to their group – so she asked me that question. I knew I couldn’t just “swing by.” I knew it was an overnight trip so I did something I have never done before – I said, “If you’ll have dinner with me, I’ll drive the 2 – 3 hours over to Prescott to speak to your group,” and she said “Yes.” That was about April or May of 1988.

Honestly, for her it was a business meeting but for me, it was a date. I could tell pretty quickly that she wanted to keep it professional and I remained a perfect gentleman all evening. We spoke for hours. Many, many hours. I didn’t get her home until almost 1am and we had the BNI meeting that morning at 7am.

There was something special about this woman (after the first date)

When I got home to LA the day after the meeting, I had a conversation with the nanny (Pia Jacobsen – PJ) who was watching my young daughter (whom Elisabeth later adopted). She asked me how that “date” went that I was looking forward to so much. I told her that it was a “good thing that she lived so far away” and she asked me “Why?”. I told her, “Because if Elisabeth lived nearby, I would ask her to marry me”. PJ said, “Are you crazy, you just got divorced – you can’t get married again so soon and especially after one date!” I agreed that it was crazy and I told her I knew that I was a logical, left-brain thinker, but that there was something special about this woman and it was probably good that she lived so far away. It would give me time.

Elisabeth and I then started talking a couple of times a week by phone. This was back in the day when long-distance phone calls were crazy expensive. Beth couldn’t afford the calls so when she wanted to talk she would call me and we’d hang up immediately and I’d call her back because she didn’t make enough money to afford talking for very long. And I, of course, called her directly – a lot. We saw each other in person a couple times over the next seven months but the relationship was almost exclusively by phone.

We’re going to be a great team!

In late December, we were talking and she said she had just gone to a Chiropractor’s conference (she was a Chiropractic Assistant). I was still running my consulting business full-time AND doing BNI close to full-time. She asked me for some “business” advice. She said she had two job offers and wanted my professional opinion (as a business consultant) as to which was the better opportunity. My first question was – “Where are the jobs?” She said, “One was in Dallas and the other was in Pasadena” (close to me). I immediately told her the best one was Pasadena. She said, “But you haven’t even heard anything about the offers!” I said to her – “I don’t know if you get it by now but I’m interested in you. I recommend Pasadena.” So, she moved out to California in February. (The cover photo above of Elisabeth and I was taken in February 1989. I took her to the BNI Murder Mystery event in San Diego. It was our first getaway together) Then, she left the chiropractor and came to work with me in March (see the note from Elisabeth to me below). I asked her to marry me in April, and we were married in May, 1989 (see photos from our wedding at the bottom of this blog).

While it wasn’t love at “first sight” it was, for me, love at “first date”. We were married for 31 years. I don’t know “how” I knew. I’m not sure that “knew” is even the right word. It was something I “felt.” And for someone like me, who values tangible information and facts, to get such an overwhelming feeling – I knew I needed to pay attention to it. I’m glad I did.

Please visit the Elisabeth Misner memorial website and leave your memories or stories about Elisabeth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Census

Census Survivor – 40 Years Later

Your first thought after reading the title of this blog might have been . . . “Census Survivor,” what’s there to survive?”  Well, for one medium-sized suburban district office of the 1980 census, not that much . . . unless you count six dog bites, three car accidents, and 11 attempted assaults (two at knifepoint, four at gunpoint, two with a baseball bat and the rest merely by hand), as well as a census worker who fell down a flight of steps, another who had a door slammed on her hand and, of course, the census worker who fell in a hole in someone’s front yard.

These were but a few of the challenges I ran into when I was the Field Operations Supervisor of the 1980 Census in Covina, California.  It was my first management job. I was a young man in graduate school who had over 500 people who worked for me during this operation.  I actually hired (and fired) more people in those nine months than I did in the next 40 years combined!

Tales of an Enumerator (Census Taker)

The battlefield of suburbia was not the greatest problem faced by enumerators. Maintaining their sanity in the face of adversity was the greatest challenge.

We had water balloons dropped on enumerators at a local university, we did a set of interviews at a nudist camp (OK, in all honesty, the Census taker in that situation didn’t mind it too much), we had enumerators being propositioned–a lot–and we even got information about residents from dog tags!

My favorite tactic was used by a woman who would go to particularly unwilling individuals and sing Happy Birthday To You to the unsuspecting person, who would say, “It’s not my birthday,” to which the enumerator would say, “Really? When is your birthday?” The resident would blurt out the date and the enumerator got some basic information.  Generally, the resident thought that was so clever, he or she would then cooperate.

I’d like to say that I miss this experience but . . . I don’t. It was trial by fire. That said, I am very glad I went through it. It gave me an opportunity as a young man of only 24 to manage and supervise over 500 enumerators. It was an experience I will never forget and always be grateful for . . .  mostly. 

Behavioral Styles

Knowing Behavioral Styles Will Win You Referrals

Many entrepreneurs rely on referral marketing, or the use of personal recommendations through networking, to spread the word about their business. When you’ve taken the time to build the right relationships, referral marketing can be a substantial part of your business. But when I ask entrepreneurs if they are getting all the referrals they want when networking, nearly every person says no. They all talk about wanting more referrals, but they have no plan for how to get them. Where to begin? Let’s start with knowing behavioral styles, a term that refers to what motivates you.

The Four Common Behavioral Styles:

  • Nurturer: Slower-paced, people-oriented, dislikes confrontation, and takes care of others.
  • Promoter: Fast-paced, people-oriented, gregarious, and likes to be in the spotlight.
  • Examiner: Slower-paced, task-oriented, methodical, relies on the facts, and dislikes hype.
  • Go-Getter: Fast-paced, task-oriented, driven, and hates being wrong about anything.

As an entrepreneur, you must understand your own behavioral style, learn how to quickly identify behavioral styles in others, and, most importantly, adapt your approach to those different styles.

For example, imagine you’re a florist at a networking function, and you meet a wedding planner. You’re enjoying your conversation and you feel that this could be a good connection, so you decide to set up a lunch meeting.

At lunch, they ask you a series of questions about your business. Your new contact wants to know how long you’ve been in business, what your company organization looks like, all your products and services as well as your pricing, not to mention a laundry list of technical questions.

For a Nurturer, this interrogation might seem off-putting in the context of a “get to know you better” meeting. But for an Examiner, this approach is completely natural. What seems comfortable to one person may seem either confrontational or rude to the other. While some people need as much information as they can get to move forward in a relationship, others like to ease in more gradually, taking their time to get to know you as a person before getting to know your business.

Warning signs

To be clear: neither person in this scenario is right or wrong. People behave in the way that’s most natural to them, but if you aren’t attuned to the behavioral style of the person you’re dealing with, both sides could walk away feeling awkward and exhausted. There are signs to watch out for that will clue you into what behavioral style you’ve got on your hands.

  • Nurturers have a relaxed disposition and tend to be warm and friendly. They are good team players but are risk-averse.
  • Promoters prefer to schmooze with clients over lunch rather than work on a proposal in the office. They are idea-people and dreamers who excel at getting others excited. They are risk-takers who are not inclined to do their homework or check out detailed information.
  • Examiners are generally in control of their emotions and maybe uncomfortable around people who are less self-contained. They tend to see the complex side of situations, but they also tend to have an off-the-wall sense of humor.
  • Go-Getters believe in expedience and are not afraid to bend the rules. They figure it is easier to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission. They may appear aloof because they are goal-focused.

Once you identify a person’s behavioral style, you can tailor yours to match. If you’re dealing with a Nurturer, be patient, and ask questions to get to know them as a person. However, if you have a Promoter on your hands, be excited about the news they have to share about themselves. If you are dealing with an Examiner, come prepared with facts and data and be willing to listen to the information they share. Finally, if you’re dealing with a Go-Getter, get to the point fast, be concise, and be gone.

The content of this blog is from the book, “Room Full of Referrals”. Your behavioral style is affecting your referability! Are you treating others the way that they want to be treated?

ROOM FULL OF REFERRALS® …”and how to network for them!”

By Dr. Tony Alessandra, Dr. Ivan Misner & Dawn Lyons

This book will create a new mindset in the business networking world. You are not walking into a room full of people when you go to networking events; you are walking into a Room Full of Referrals®. The real question is – do you know HOW to network for those referrals? “There is one major obstacle to overcome at networking functions – you!”

 

 

Elisabeth Misner

Elisabeth Misner – Humanitarian, Author, Minister, and Mom

Elisabeth was the love of my life.  She brought color into my black and white world. Elisabeth Prevo was born on June 13th, 1964, in Fort Worth, Texas to John and Mary Prevo.  She was the eldest of three children.  Her brother is Jon Prevo and her sister is Tammy Prevo. She obtained both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in theology.  She was later ordained as a Christian minister. Elisabeth started her career as a chiropractic assistant where she met her husband, Ivan Misner.  She left that field to work for BNI where she served in many roles. She then transitioned to the Marketing Director handling PR and marketing for the organization.

In the last few years of her life, Elisabeth called herself a “Lovetarian.”  She loved people and she loved life.  Anyone who knew Elisabeth knew this to be true.  She was a gentle, loving soul who will be missed by everyone who knew her well. Elisabeth Misner passed away on October 29th, 2020. She is survived by me and her three children, Ashley Misner, Dorian Prin, and Trey Misner Tempest.

“All my life I have found creative ways to incorporate service to others into my professional life. From being a chiropractic assistant, managing special projects for BNI, and leading the prayer ministry at my church, my one question has always been, How can I help you? I want to know what I can do that will make things better for those whom I support and encourage.” Quote by Elisabeth Misner

Humanitarian Efforts of Elisabeth Misner

Givers Gain was a way of life for Elisabeth and myself. She taught us all how easy it is to be a positive part of someone else’s story.

  • As a child growing up in eastern Tennessee, Elisabeth collected the discarded aluminum cans from the various roadways near her home and recycled them. Furthermore, she donated all the funds from recycling the cans to the scouting program at her church.
  • As an adult living in Southern California, Elisabeth donated her gently used business suits to the House of Ruth for their clients to wear at job interviews. The House of Ruth provides critical, life-saving, and supportive services to victims of domestic violence in Pomona, California since 1977.
  • In 2005, Elizabeth Misner was named the Red Cross Humanitarian of the Year for her disaster relief support after Hurricane Katrina.
  • Internationally, Elisabeth Misner helped Building Blocks to build schools in Bangalore. This organization works for the betterment of slum children across India by providing them with a well-rounded education on par with most private schools.
  • Elisabeth supported the Little Rock Inclusive Early Childhood Development Centre in Kenya. They provide a great start at growth and learning to disadvantaged and special needs children living in the urban slums. They make it possible for children to reach physical, emotional, and cognitive development milestones and gain school readiness skills.
  • Elisabeth was the co-founder with me of the BNI Foundation and helped to raise millions of dollars for children and education all around the world. She also created their “Business Voices” initiative which creates an awareness of the local educational needs with the local business professionals.
  • Elisabeth was the administrator of The Misner Family Foundation. Beth, our three adult kids, and I would decide together which causes or charities to support as a family.

“It is so overwhelmingly gratifying to be able to impact the lives of kids all over our planet, whether they are in Kansas or India. I was raised with an understanding that we have an obligation to make life better for others wherever and whenever we can.” Quote by Elisabeth Misner

Books Authored by Elisabeth Misner

Elisabeth Misner was a New York Times Bestselling author. She wrote or contributed to seven books. Her latest book was published just one month before her death.  It is titled, Called Out of the Church.

Elisabeth Misner was an Ordained Minister

One thing that would tell you a lot about Elisabeth is that she transitioned from being called Beth to being called Elisabeth.  She did that because she said that Beth means “house” and “Elisabeth” means “house of God.”

Elisabeth was an ordained minister with a Bachelor’s degree in theology. Plus, a Master’s degree in theology with an emphasis on spiritual formation. She was the founder of the Journey Center (Claremont), a center for spirituality, healing, and wholeness in California. Elisabeth’s spiritual journey planted the seed of passion within her to be an instrument of peace and grace for others. She had a way of working with her clients to tap into their unconditional love. Her goal was to bring them to spiritual clarity and peace. It did not matter their faith path or tradition. Elisabeth was a meditation and prayer leader.

“There can be no doubt that the ability to intuitively listen to the voice of the Spirit is important.” Quote by Elisabeth Misner

Elisabeth Misner Loved Being a Mom

Elisabeth would always say that the most important job in her life was that of “mom”.  She loved being a mom and she immensely loved our three children: Ashley Misner, Dorian Prin, and Trey Misner Tempest. While raising our children she also obtained a black belt in Shotokan Karate. Finally, Elisabeth studied Tai Chi and later become a Qigong Master teaching at the Austin Spa Resort in Texas.

“I have always been a full-time mom, and feel that God has taught me so much in the process of raising these three amazing young people.”  Quote by Elisabeth Misner

Final Thoughts on Elisabeth Misner

Elisabeth’s hobbies and interests included gardening, scrapbooking, and travel. Furthermore, she also loved reading, writing, painting, drawing, quilting, speaking, decorating homes, fine art, wine, astronomy, and meditation. Beth was fluent in Spanish and German, the language of her Mennonite great-grandmother, Elisabeth Kroeker. Yes, she was named after her. Elisabeth also spoke French and she knew sign language and a little Japanese.  Elisabeth was truly a life-long learner. She especially loved Texas. Beth always told people she was from Texas, even when they lived in California.  Texas was her home wherever she resided.  She was incredibly happy to come back to Texas for the last six years of her life. The world, Texas, and our home are a little less perfect without her in it.

In Lieu of flowers, our family would prefer donations to the BNI Foundation.

Please visit her memorial site and leave your memories or stories about Elisabeth:
https://www.forevermissed.com/elisabeth-misner/lifestory

I will be making an announcement later on Facebook when her online Memorial will be held. All are welcome to attend.

Ice Breaker

Small Talk: The Mighty Ice Breaker

One of the most important aspects of networking is the small talk that occurs at networking functions. The small talk acts as an ice breaker to open up the initial conversation between strangers. This initial conversation is important. It is the first opportunity to grow a mutual connection that may lead to future referrals.

Locubrevisphobia

This big word is the fear of making small talk, often resulting in the sufferer avoiding social and networking events. Many people simply dread the thought of having to carry on conversations with people they do not know. It is easy to label these people as shy. However, only a small minority of people are too shy to enjoy talking with others. Most people are not afraid to talk; they are just intimidated by the task of finding something to talk about.

For this reason, business owners need to stay on top of pop culture and current events. The latest issues and stories in the news are great ways to break the ice and help you find common ground with a person you may never have met before and with whom you may not have much in common. But with the media explosion, it’s increasingly difficult to have a firm grasp on water-cooler talk, particularly when it comes to conversations with people in different age brackets. So, how do you start — and maintain — a conversation at a networking or other event with someone you don’t know at all?

Just ask questions as an ice breaker

This sounds simple because it is. A great way to get people to talk is to ask a few “feeder” questions that will help you learn what the other person is interested in. Simply hone in on that subject. You don’t have to know anything about the topic to converse about the topic. You just have to know enough to ask the questions.

It’s easier you think. Online news sites have set up their pages with easy-to-read convenient categories, such as Top News, Sports, Entertainment, and Tech. Either at night or first thing in the morning, just take a few minutes to read the headlines, and maybe the first one to two sentences. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about “what’s hot” from just a cursory glance. You have enough information to start asking questions and conversing with someone new.

Make the other person feel like an expert

I still remember when I realized the value of asking questions and letting someone answer them. I was flying for business, and just before taking off, I struck up a conversation with the person seated next to me. I’m not sure what started the conversation, but I wasn’t familiar with the business he was in, and I asked a question. That question led to another, then another until the end of that two-hour flight. I realized that he had “small talked” during the entire flight. We made a good connection, I had learned something new, and, as we were gathering our belongings, he complimented me for being a good conversationalist.

A savvy networker, Susan RoAne, reads the sports section in her newspaper from cover to cover every single day, even though she has zero interest in sports. “Why on earth would you subject yourself to this?” I asked her, as I am admittedly not a sports fan, either. She replied, “My networking functions are primarily attended by men. I don’t want to stay on the sidelines while important conversations are going on, conversations that invariably start with a discussion about last night’s game.”

Take a few minutes each day to browse enough headlines to arm you with enough knowledge of current events, pop culture — and yes, even sports. Use this knowledge as an ice breaker to ask questions and get conversations flowing. Using small talk is simply a good networking strategy. As a bonus, you’ll learn a lot from these conversations you might never have learned otherwise.

Intuition in Business

Is There Room for Intuition in Business?

Is there room for intuition in business? Yes, most definitely. Decades ago, I may have thought differently. Over the years I have changed my opinion and believe that intuition can be another tool in the business tool belt. The definition of intuition is the “direct perception of truth or facts, independent of any reasoning process; it is an immediate apprehension or a keen and quick insight into something”.

The Intuits’ Intuition

Years ago, I read a science fiction book that talked about “intuits,” people in their society who seemed to understand things instinctually. Intuits were thought to have this incredible ability to have immediate cognition of a situation. But the truth was, the intuits developed the skill to quickly assemble the facts, analyze the data, and predict probabilities based on their field of expertise. The book was science fiction. However, it made a statement that resonated with me. It said something that flies in the face of the definition above. It said intuits trained for many years in very specific fields and that it wasn’t an instinctual understanding of an issue but it was about quickly using reasoning given their amassed understanding of particular issues. In the real world, that’s basically what predictive analytics do using computers today.

Instinctual Intuition

Having reconsidered my opinion on instincts, I noticed that as I acquired more experience in my field, I found myself better at assessing issues quickly and having a “gut feeling” about the direction I should go. What I had presumed was instinct was — at least in part — quickly assessing the situation given my amassed knowledge of a particular subject.

What some people think of as “instinct” might be this amassed knowledge applied rapidly. I recently had someone drop me a note about a particular challenge he was having. I gave him some advice and in an email response discussing the resolution of the issue, he said I had assessed a particular problem accurately and concluded by saying, “your gut instinct is amazing!” Truth be told, it was partly intuition but predominantly my years and years of seeing situations like this and quickly assessing the problem and offering a solution. In my very own narrow field, I looked like an intuit.

Follow Your Intuition

elephant

How to Network with the Elephant in the Room

Experienced networkers understand that networking is not always a perfect 100% satisfaction guaranteed activity. A member can sometimes have a problem with another person in their networking group. However, instead of talking with this person to resolve the problem, the member avoids this person due to their personal discomfort, and the unresolved problem can grow into a larger situation. Now, the situation has created “the elephant in the room”, which could cause drama within the networking group.

Drama can occur in any group where wide varieties of people and personalities interact. This is also true in business networking groups that meet weekly for in-person or online meetings. If the physical avoidance between these two members is obvious to others at the networking meeting, the negativity from the situation could be felt by others in the group as “the elephant in the room”, potentially causing drama within the group.

What is “the elephant in the room”?

The elephant in the roomis defined as “a metaphorical idiom for an enormous topic or controversial issue that is obvious or that everyone knows about but no one mentions or wants to discuss because it makes at least some of them uncomfortable”. The member, due to discomfort, ignored the initial problem with the other person and avoided them during the group meetings. Therefore, the unresolved problem grew into a larger situation that became very obvious to the other members of the networking group. The initial problem between these two members evolved into “the elephant in the room” for the entire networking group. So, how do you tame and remove the elephant? Here are three of the most common situations why a networking group might have “the elephant in the room” and my suggestions for gracefully taming each of them:

Elephant #1: Poor Referrals

The reason for joining a networking group is to build strong relationships with the members to refer business to one another. Normally, this is a win-win for the member receiving the referral because their business grows with a new client, as well as a win for the member who gave the referral because of Givers Gain®. However, a small percentage of referrals may be poor referrals. They take up time but do not result in closed business. When something goes wrong and a member receives a poor referral, this can create the first elephant.

People who are experiencing a problem with a fellow member tend to talk about the problem to other members instead of talking directly with the fellow member that they are experiencing the problem with. This can actually make the problem worse.

Talk with the member giving you poor referrals.

In most of these situations, nothing was wrong with the actual referral. Usually, the problem was simply caused by miscommunication. Do not perpetuate problems by avoiding open, honest communication with others. Take the time to talk about it in a non-confrontational way. Talking right away will avoid making these awkward situations even worse.

Elephant #2: Personal Disagreements

Networking would be so much easier if people were not involved. Although networking is all about building relationships with people, personal disagreements are inevitable and problems occur. Avoiding each other due to discomfort and not talking with each other to resolve the disagreement creates the second elephant.

Focus on the solution rather than on the problem.

If you only focus on the problem, you become an expert on the problem. All too often, when facing a problem, the first thing we tend to do is focus on the negative situation. This tends to move us further from finding a way to fix it and that does not help the problem.

You must begin to start focusing on ways to resolve the situation by focusing on solutions. Rather than react, take the time to fully analyze the problem then make a list of possible solutions. When we think of ways to overcome our problems, we are prepared for the next problem down the road. Often, all that is needed is honest and direct communication between the two members to solve the disagreement.

Elephant #3: Breakups Between Members

Networking groups tend to attract like-minded people. Sometimes they bring two of their members together for more than just business. Over the years, I have known many couples that dated, fell in love, got married, and started a family together all because they first met at their networking group. On the other hand, this can quickly create the third elephant if the relationship ends badly and the two members remain in the same group after the messy breakup.

Take the higher ground and continue to network.

Given the value of your network, it is worth working through those feelings if you find yourself in a breakup with another member of your networking group. Do not lose your network of valuable referral sources you have built. The more professional you remain following the breakup, the higher your regard will be by your group. Therefore, remember not to talk badly about the other person or discuss the breakup situation with other members of the group.

Whatever the reason, many people involved in business networking may one day face a situation with “the elephant in the room”. Remember not to focus on growing the problem but on growing your business. Do not burn bridges with people in your group by avoiding them or the uncomfortable situation. Instead, talk to them about your concerns. You never know what the future will bring. You might end up being friends and valued referral partners with the former elephant.

definition of networking

My New Definition of Networking

One word that has had multiple definitions over the years concerning business growth is networking. For some business owners, networking was defined as compiling a huge database of names, usually by collecting business cards. Other entrepreneurs defined networking as the opportunity to meet people and personally prospect for business. Still, other businesspeople defined networking as nothing more than schmoozing and boozing, with no specific intention except to be seen and socialize. Therefore, I needed to consolidate these various thoughts on the definition of networking based on my experiences into one definition of networking:

“The process of developing and using your contacts to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve your community”

This definition stood the test of time for many years. However, times have changed. During the past nine months, business people have survived the most challenging economic time since the Great Depression. I realize that my definition of networking needs to evolve to reflect our changing times and business climate. There are some truths to retain from my original definition of networking. However, a few concepts need updating.

“Using” updates to “Activates”

The word “using” sounds rather harsh with the negative concept of “using” someone for something. However, when one “activates” others, the engagement becomes interactive and inspiring to take action together. The word “using” implies an action like a one-way street, while the word “activating” implies an interaction like a major two-way highway.

In these changing times, we need to be more inspiring and engaging when networking. Entrepreneurs who “activate” their network have higher networking results than those that are “using” someone.

“Contacts” updates to “Relationships”

The word “contacts” is an impersonal term for the names in one’s database. However, we cultivate genuine and authentic positive “relationships” with the people we feel are important to include in our network. Our “relationships” are something that we build together over time.

Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Commit to mastering what it takes to efficiently and effectively harness the potential in your “relationship crops” and you will reap a bountiful harvest of mutually satisfying relationships and sustainable growth in your business.

Includes “Online Networking”

In 2013, I wrote a blog about the beginning of online networking and recommended the importance of integrating this type of networking into your overall referral marketing strategy. I did not predict back then that seven years later the business world would be experiencing “The Great Pause” and we would all be working from home.

In 2020, in-person “face-to-face” networking came to a halt because of the current health situation. Many governments banned indoor group events. Even if you cannot go to your usual places to network face-to-face with others at mixers, meetings, or social events, you can still take action and build up your networking online.

Online networking provides many ways to connect with others, even if not face-to-face. In BNI, back in March 2020, we switched all 9,500 of our BNI chapters from weekly in-person meetings to online Zoom meetings as we embraced online networking. The goal is still the same as with in-person networking.  We focus on developing strong relationships with others and activate them to inspire others to support our businesses.

Online networking works! Our BNI members have already helped their fellow BNI members generate over $11.7 billion US dollars in revenue so far in 2020, resulting from over 8.6 million referrals exchanged. Therefore, amid these challenging times, referrals generated from online networking are helping many businesses stay open.

My new definition of networking is “The process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve the community”.

The changes may seem small, yet they are significant. I needed to modify my definition of networking with these updates. I believe this is a better representation of the concept of networking these days. Successful networking is about helping others as a way of growing your business. The people you help are more willing to help you or connect you to the people they know. Through networking, you can build a referral-based business by activating your relationships either online or in-person.

By simply changing a few words in my original definition of networking, I created what I believe is the true meaning of effective networking. My revised definition of networking is congruent with my style of networking. The same style of networking that BNI teaches our members every day. We know after 36 years of changing people’s lives that networking works. Your local BNI community can give you, and the people that you know, the support you need to thrive. Today, more than ever, you need to be networking. Today, more than ever, you need BNI.

networking benefits

The Networking Benefits

Networking benefits outweigh the perceived obstacles. These obstacles include the time away from the office to the cost to join the networking group. However, the networking benefits far exceed these concerns. The biggest benefit of networking is building strong relationships with others. The more solid relationships you build, the more credible you become. The more your credibility grows, the more people will hire and recommend you. Therefore, there are networking benefits that affect your finances, customer spending, and the impression of the quality of your business.

The Financial Networking Benefits

Before looking at the financial networking benefits there are both soft- and hard-money costs to consider. “Hard money” includes credit cards, cash, checks, and other possessions with monetary value. The term “soft money” is used to assign value to services or the invested time you spend on your business, otherwise known as sweat equity.

The time investment in business networking also builds social capital. Businesses develop and maintain solid, professional relationships through successful networking which create the value behind social contacts. The value of your invested time – “soft money” – is actually greater than the value of your “hard money” spent. Calculate the value of soft-money investments in networking and building relationships. You will be surprised at the financial value you have delivered to your business.

Networking Benefits Include These Positive Wealth Effects

  • Added sales volume
  • Higher average transaction amount per sale
  • Greater closing ratio
  • Referrals tend to be very qualified professionals
  • Higher occurrences of leads and referrals
  • More repeat business
  • Greater positive word-of-mouth marketing benefits
  • More customer loyalty
  • Stronger community recognition
  • Greater perceived value

The Networking Benefits on the Impression of Quality

The impression of the quality of your business is powerful. Consumers are willing to pay more for services and products that they equate to be of higher quality. The impression people have about the quality of your business is enhanced through networking.

Networking allows others to share testimonials about your business and to say good things about you. They help to convey the image of quality for your business. Networking allows others to say things about you that may be considered bragging if you said them. Imagine how powerful it is when your fellow networkers believe in you, they cannot stop talking about you with people they know. Your name is passed along with more and more frequency and confidence.

Your networking efforts are rewarded in many ways. After you have repeatedly established proof of quality, you will be referred to in such a manner that will greatly enhance your customer spending, and positively affect your finances. In conclusion, these networking benefits greatly outweigh the perceived obstacles.

Asking For Expert Advice From Your Personal Mastermind Group

Every good business network can become a personal mastermind group that is accessible by its members to gain knowledge and information from the other members. Even though you are networking to receive referrals for your business, you also gain access to this diverse group of business professionals in your network. If you have not been asking for expert advice from your fellow members, you are missing out on an amazing benefit: a personal mastermind group.

A powerful business network not only can help you expand your business, it also can help you improve your business. There is nothing more powerful than having a room full of people who are ready and willing to help you succeed as your personal mastermind group. However, asking for expert advice from your fellow members requires a little finesse. Here are a few thoughts to ponder when you want to ask someone in your network for advice.

Five Tips to Consider Before Asking For Expert Advice

1. Before you ask for something, give something.

It is important to build some social capital with the people in your network before you start asking for favors. Seeking help from people before you have given anything is a little like trying to get a withdrawal from your banking account without having put anything into it first.

2. Restrict your requests for advice to that person’s area of expertise.

Otherwise, you risk putting a fellow network member on the spot and making him or her uncomfortable.

3. Do not have hidden motives.

If network members believe you are seeking advice as a subterfuge for promoting your own services, they will not only be offended and unwilling to help you, they may also feel less confident about your ability to help them.

4. Avoid potentially controversial and sensitive issues.

This may sound like common sense, however if you delve too far into the personal topics, you could cause discomfort and damage the relationship.

5. Do not ask for advice that people would normally charge you for.

A quick question or two is fine, however you want to avoid excessive questioning. There is a difference between soliciting free advice and encroaching upon asking for free services. You do not want to do anything that will jeopardize the strong business relationship you are building with them.

The Rewards When Someone Is Asking For Expert Advice

Receiving a request for your expert advice can lead to so much more. An owner of a small creative-services firm wanted to relocate to another state. However, she became frustrated with the difficulty in communicating with the various state agencies that were two time zones away. Her plans came to a standstill.

The business owner decided to ask for expert advice from the certified public accountant (CPA) in her networking group during an upcoming one-to-one meeting. She provided a brief overview of her situation to him. The CPA was very knowledgeable about the state that she wanted to move to. The business owner was rewarded for asking for his help. He quickly provided her lots of expert advice on moving her business.

Furthermore, the CPA was also rewarded for giving his expert advice. The owner of the creative services firm hired the CPA to help resolve her problems with the move. Then, she transferred all of her financial and record-keeping functions to his firm. Plus, she also referred to him three other business owners as potential clients. In return, the CPA connected her with a major new customer. Surprisingly, all of this happened from a single request of asking for expert advice from one member of a networking group to another. Givers Gain®

Build your business networking group and grow your personal mastermind group too. Think about the expert advice you would love to discuss with someone. Then, you and your fellow chapter members can invite these various business professionals to visit your chapter. If one of them decides to join your chapter, you will have someone to build a strong relationship with to turn to for the expert advice you seek as part of growing personal mastermind group.

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