Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner®
Bad Networking

Bad Networking Costs More Than $100,000 per Year

Today’s blog comes from a “Home Business Magazine Online” article I was quoted in, Bad Networking Costs More Than $100,000 Per Year. Here’s How to Do It Right by Dustin Siggins.

HOME BUSINESS Magazine ONLINE is loaded with content to help you start-up and succeed in a home-based business. HBM ONLINE is an advanced community for home-based entrepreneurs and business owners; people who work from home; and telecommuters. Therefore, check back often, as the content is loaded daily.

Dustin spoke with several experts about how small business owners can turn networking into company growth.  Furthermore, this article also has advice from Jon Rutenberg, Keith Ferrazzi, Becky Sheetz-Runkle, Todd Rowley, and Chuck Feddersen. I was honored to be included in this article. Below is my segment:

Be Patient

Ivan Misner, Ph.D. founded Business Networking International, which has over 250,000 members worldwide. Misner said that “people tend to use networking as a face-to-face cold-calling opportunity. That does not work. Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.”

Misner explained that referral and network-based strategies are “about building deep relationships with people who are willing to refer to each other. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you’ll never achieve the success you want. You should find a network that is wide and, in some places, deep.”

What is popular is not always right. For small business owners, networking is very popular, but it is often done wrong. Bad networking costs a minimum of $100,000 annually.

Emotionally Charged Connection

My ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection

In my book, “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect”, I talk about my ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection. We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you generally as a child that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative.

Many people are not conscious of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it’s the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day.  It’s driven by the heart, not the checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference.  Once you become conscious of this connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply it.

Gladstone High School

My ECC resulted in my desire to help others to succeed. I cannot make you successful. I always lost when I ran for student council. As a freshman at Gladstone High School, Mr. Romero, my freshman high school history teacher, picked me for the student council. “Oh no, not Ivan. Anybody but Ivan”.   I do not know what he saw in me but I am going to do whatever I need to do to make him proud. He saw something and helped me to succeed. I’m doing the same thing now. I had a handful of teachers that saw something in me and supported me. We all have something like this that helped guide a chapter in our life that will influence our future.

Your “why”–the Emotionally Charged Connection you have with your work–is the most important thing you can figure out about your business. If you don’t know why you do what you do, you’ll never fulfill your professional dreams.

MINO

MINO: Members In Name Only

Being a member of the group is not enough. What I called a MINO (Member In Name Only)  If you are not contributing then why are you there.

Whatever the issues are, just ask, “How can we help?” If we respond negatively, they become defensive. The power is to focus on a constructive approach. If you ask them, “How can we help you?”, their answer will always be either a “Can’t do” or “Won’t do” answer. The person will either explain why they are having difficulty with the situation because they “don’t know how to” address it effectively, or they will give an answer that illustrates that they “don’t really want to” do this for some reason or another. If they are going to say they are really challenged: I can’t do.

How to handle a “Can’t do”:

The printer in a chapter was dead last on P.A.L.M.S. report. We did not tell him that he was dead last. Instead, we asked him, “How can we help you?” The print shop is new, I don’t understand networking. I sleep at my print shop. I do not know how to do this networking stuff. This is a classic “Cant’ Do” response. It is our job to teach them. We were all “can’t do” when we first started. We all make tons of mistakes. When someone alleges they can’t do, they are open to being coached. It is our job to teach them.  If we were just negative and told them they were dead last, he would have quit. Pour into them and help them. They become champions in BNI.

We came up with this together and brainstorm the idea. Not my idea, but I helped. Where the clients come into the lobby area of his shop, he put up a sign where everyone could see it with slots for the BNI members’ business cards. Get 20 copies of everyone’s business cards to fill signs with only the cards from BNI members. Tell them that Bob’s printing referred you. If someone not in BNI wants to give you their cards for the sign, invite them to the next BNI meeting. True story! Nobody just took a card and left. They asked Bob his opinion on each of these. He gave a testimonial with everyone he had cards for. Bob went from last to number one in giving the most referrals. He went from being embarrassed to the top referral giver within 6 months. Bob was the winner of the year. He now loves BNI. We changed his business by coaching and mentoring Bob.

How to handle a “Won’t do”:

It’s too difficult. They give excuses, they are busy, I’m different. With a clear-cut “won’t do”, you open the door for them. They will leave on their own. “I understand your frustration, it is ok to leave the group, feel free to come back if things change”. If you kick them out, they will become defiant and negative towards BNI. They blame and claim it is everyone’s fault. It’s ok to leave on top. If they don’t save face, they will fight you all the way. They don’t hate you if you give them the option to leave in a positive manner. Throw them a “retirement party”. You can cut down the percentage that will require a tough conversation by 90%. Then only 10% of the time you need to have the tough talk about opening their classification and not renewing their membership.

The best part about BNI is friendship; the worst part is the friendship. Ice hockey without rules would be boxing on ice. Without rules, your networking group would be chaos.  You want to be invested in their success. Being a member of the group is not enough.   If you are not contributing then why are you there? Do not become a MINO.

Contact Sphere

Developing a Networking Contact Sphere

A contact sphere is a group of business professionals who have a symbiotic relationship. They are compatible, non-competitive professions. Contact spheres are a broad list of professions that could work well with you. While your Power Team is only those that you are actively working with. Hence, the power team working that symbiotic relationship created in the contact sphere.

My favorite example of a contact sphere is the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the videographer, hairstylist, makeup artist, and the travel agent. I call this the “wedding mafia”! If one gets a referral to a wedding, then they all get a referral to the wedding. These professions, more than most, have truly learned how to work their contact sphere. A contact sphere can be a steady source of leads. Each has clients who can benefit from the services of the others.  This is why a wedding often turns out to be, on the side, a business networking and referral-gathering activity.

To get the most out of your contact sphere:

  • Identify as many professions as possible that fit within your company’s contact sphere. Take a look at what professions your industry tends to work with to get an idea of repetitive and reciprocal referrals. Create a list of these professions.
  • Identify specific individuals who could fit into your contact sphere. Go to various networking groups and consult your business card file and database.
  • Invite these people to participate in networking groups with you so you can formalize your relationship and have a way to stay in regular contact. Maintaining a relationship is key. A good way to do that is to participate in groups that put you together on a regular basis.
  • Evaluate the professionals in your contact sphere that you are presently referring to. If they are not reciprocating, you may have the wrong profession or the wrong person. Fill the spot with someone who is willing to reciprocate.

Although developing a solid contact sphere will greatly increase your business, you must remember that it alone is not enough. Because contact spheres consist of small groups, you’re not likely to gain exposure to a large number of individuals. Hence, work on developing your overall network of contacts at the same time you are developing your contact sphere. Good luck. Contact spheres are a great way to start building your professional network.

three P's

The Three P’s Of a Great Entrepreneur

There are a variety of factors and circumstances that go into the making of a great entrepreneur. However, there are a few personality traits that will help you make the most of any and every situation you find yourself in, and that could prove the difference between success and failure. It is important to reiterate that there is no sure guarantee to success. However, with the three P’s in your arsenal, failing will not remain an option.

See if you have these three P’s, which have been found to be the hallmark of all great entrepreneurs.

Passion

Passion is the prerequisite for success in almost any aspect of life. Especially when being an entrepreneur comes with the promise of long hours and problems to deal with every day. Only passion can motivate you to keep at your dream in spite of all the hurdles in your way. There is no guarantee that you will be realizing your dream at the end of the journey. Then again, as an entrepreneur, the journey can be never-ending, and your passion is what will see you through it all.

Persistence

What is the reason 90% of startups fail to continue beyond their initial years? Lack of persistence could be the answer. It takes persistence to survive the critical early years and overcome the challenges that every entrepreneurial initiative is bound to go through. Many believe that securing your funding and starting out is It. However, reality proves that this is only the first step. Unless you keep at it through all the hurdles that you face, you will only be a statistic in the course of history.

Problem Solver

The third most important thing that can make a difference in your success is your attitude towards problems. A lot has been said about this, but it might not be enough. As an entrepreneur, one thing you will find yourself doing a lot will be solving problems. The experience of most great entrepreneurs has shown that unconventional thinking and the ability to take calculated risks is what matters at critical junctures.

Luckily passion also means that work will not feel like work, just the way of life; and happiness at doing what you love will enrich the experience.  Your passion will guide your ability to persist. So the greater your passion for your chosen idea, the higher will be your ability to persist at it till you succeed. Only if you are good at problem-solving and able to find the right people along the way to help you will you ever be successful.

Sentence

“No” is a One Word Sentence

To network well, you really need to learn how to help people, build relationships, and support your connections in some way.  But sometimes, just sometimes, you need to also say “no” to requests that are made of you. The word “no,” can, in fact, be a one-word sentence.

Here are four more ways to say “no” and not come across like a jerk (or worse).

I don’t do that. 

Sometimes the request and my response are very simple.  For example, when someone tries to get me to have a piece of cake or pie – I simply say thanks, but I don’t eat processed sugar.  When they say something like, “oh, just a bite,” I have no problem telling them they should feel free to have my bite – because, I don’t eat sugar. To learn why, read my book, “Healing Begins in the Kitchen“.

Don’t Seinfeld it.

One of the really humorous things to see on the old TV series, Seinfeld, was how the characters would go off on some crazy subterfuge or ruse that was complicated and ended up getting them in more trouble than if they had just been candid to start with. Be polite but be honest and be direct.

Propose something else.

If you are unable to do something that you’re being asked to do, offer them something else instead.  For example, I am always having people ask me to send some communication out to my entire mailing list.  The answer is always – “no.”  However, with people I know and trust, I propose something else.  I propose that I post it on my social media instead.  That generally works just as well to post on my facebook page to maintain the relationship.

When you say it, mean it.

Be a broken record.  Sometimes, people don’t take “no” for an answer.  I try to be polite, smile, and repeat what I said before (on some occasions, I’ve repeated myself three times before they realized I really meant it).

One important thing to note is; don’t become addicted to “no.”  I look for opportunities to help people and to say yes.  It’s only when I really, truly, can’t help or believe that I’m not a good fit for their request – that I actually say “no” to people.  Many times when you say “yes,” there is an opportunity cost to you for saying yes.  You have to be clear in your mind whether this is truly an opportunity or a distraction.

Don’t get me wrong, I am totally good with saying “no,” to people when it is necessary. The secret is: how do you say “no” without sounding like a jerk? The older I get, the more I have learned to say, “no thanks!”  (Ok, it’s two words but it’s still a sentence).

Elevator Pitch

Seven Rules for an Elevator Pitch

I used to hate the expression “elevator pitch.” It just drove me crazy. But now that everybody’s using it all over the world, I officially give up and am going to go with it. The metaphor developed out of the hypothetical that you are literally in an elevator with one minute or less to say who you are and what you do. What would you say? I want you to keep in mind that this is not a sales pitch; it is a creative and succinct way to generate interest in the listener.

With that in mind, here are my seven rules for creating an engaging elevator pitch:

Don’t do your elevator pitch in an actual elevator.

An unsolicited pitch in an elevator is basically face-to-face cold calling. I’ve been a victim. Don’t be a perpetrator. Unless someone asks what you do, just say “good day” to them. The elevator pitch is meant to be taken out of the elevator and into the right environment.

Make it tight.  

It needs to be short. This is a quick pitch, not a reading from War and Peace. Your pitch should be more like a work of art than a science project. It should be succinct and expressive, something you practice carefully and present cohesively and professionally. You also need to be natural. You want to rehearse, but not sound rehearsed, and avoid sounding staged and canned.

K.I.S.S.

Keep it simple. Don’t try to explain everything you do in the short amount of time you have. It will either be too much information (breaking rule number two) or too vague to be of any value. By keeping your elevator pitch simple, you have more of a chance to catch the listener’s attention, engage them with your creativity and create interest in your product or service.

Don’t use jargon.

If at any point someone has to say, “What does that mean?” you have officially lost them. Push the button for the next floor and exit now. (I know, you’re not really on an elevator, but you have really lost them.)

Share your USP.

A USP is your Unique Selling Proposition. One example of how to craft a pithy USP is to alter a bland, general statement such as, “I’m a coach and consultant” to something like, “I help people work less, make more and create referrals for life” instead. This is short, powerful and informative, i.e. the perfect combination for part of an effective elevator pitch.

Consider starting out with precisely how your listener will benefit.

My friend, communications expert Andy Bounds, calls this “the afters.” For your elevator pitch, this could be something as simple as, “I help people increase their sales by 33 percent, improve their closing ratio to 80 percent or double the number of new clients they take on per month.” In other words, focus on the “after” effect of the product or service you provide.

Pass the eyebrow test.

Another good friend, Sam Horn, author of Someday is Not a Day of the Week, writes about the “eyebrow test.” If what you say in your elevator pitch causes the listener’s eyebrows to go up, you’ve got ’em! You’ve left the listener wanting more, and that’s precisely what you want to accomplish. On the other hand, if the listener’s eyebrows scrunch down, you’ve just confused them. Find a new pitch.

Keeping these seven rules in mind when you create an elevator pitch will set you apart from the crowd. Now it’s time to press “Open Door.”

invest time

Invest Time to Learn About Others

If you want someone to learn about the value of your products or services, you have to spend time learning about the value of theirs. The best way to do this is a personal meeting. Master networkers meet regularly and invest time to raise each other’s understanding of their businesses.

“John, I’d like to be able to refer more business to you, but I need a deeper understanding of what your company does and how you operate. Could we get together next week to discuss this?”

Although you don’t say so, John understands that he’ll learn something more about your business at the same time. It’s not always easy to know how confident your contacts are in referring you. By having a personal meeting, you show interest in helping them to grow their business. Therefore, they will also be interested in helping to grow your business.

Ask yourself if you invest time to learn about others

  • Am I being realistic about the time it will take, in my profes­sion, to gain the critical level of confidence?
  • Am I regularly making stimulating, educational presentations to my fellow networkers about the value I provide to my clients?
  • Am I doing business with others in my BNI chapter so I can give them dynamic testimonials and steer business to them in hopes they’ll return the favor?
  • Am I meeting regularly with my networking colleagues to learn about their businesses so I can confidently refer my contacts to them?

If you can endorse the quality of products or services offered by a networking partner — that is, increase others’ confidence in them — your partner will be disposed to return the favor. Testimonials from one or two of your partners may, in turn, trigger a much larger and more valuable referral from another partner who was waiting for more evidence before taking a risk on you.

If you’re following these simple tactics, then you are well along the road to getting all the referrals from others’ networks that you deserve when you invest time to learn about others.

inspire confidence

Inspire Confidence to Refer You

When it comes to getting referrals from your network, the confidence others have in you is a vital component. None of them wants to risk their personal reputation by referring to a stranger. Until you inspire confidence that referring contacts to you won’t harm their reputation with their clients, associates, friends or family, you’re still a stranger. People won’t refer you if they feel you’re going to let them down.

Your profession matters to inspire confidence

The more significant the business being referred to is, the greater the risk to the referrer’s reputation. If you’re a florist, it may take only a week or two for people who try your services to recommend you on the basis of their experience with you. The risk associated with referring a florist is usually small unless you’re bidding on a large wedding that also might be your referrer’s top client. If you’re a financial advisor, it may take you six months or a year to reach the critical confidence level. However, since the stakes are higher, your referrer stands to gain more if the results are successful.

No matter what line of work you’re in, if you don’t perform well, your referrer will learn of it and you may not get another referral from that source.

Educate others about your business to inspire confidence

Don’t assume your fellow networkers understand your company or industry well enough to refer you confidently. You have to educate them and keep on educating them as long as you’re in business.

A networking group like BNI is ideal because everybody is expected to address the group at regular intervals. Make your presentation interesting and stimulating. Tell them how your product or service improves others. Each time you speak, present a new aspect of your business. Let your knowledge and eloquence persuade them that you’re very good at what you do. You will inspire confidence and your name will come to mind whenever a referral opportunity arises.

If you’re following these simple tactics, then you are well along the road to getting all the referrals from others’ networks that you deserve by inspiring confidence to refer you.

additional ways others can promote

Additional Ways Others Can Promote You

Put your networking circle to work for you with these five additional suggestions you can use to promote others to generate new business for them. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ideas ready to go. Here are the final five examples of additional ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro.

Provide you with referrals.

The kind of support you’d most like to get from your sources is, of course, referrals–names and contact information for specific individuals who need your products and services. Sources can also help by giving prospects your name and number. As the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for increasing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.

Introduce you to prospects.

Your source can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you in person. She can provide you with key information about the prospect. She can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your business, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in common, and the value of your products and services.

Follow up with referrals they have given you.

Your sources can contact prospects they referred to you to see how things went after your first meeting, answer their questions or concerns, and reassure them that you can be trusted. They can also give you valuable feedback about yourself and your products or service, information that you might not have been able to get on your own.

Serve as a sponsor.

Some of your sources may be willing to fund or sponsor a program or event you are hosting. They might let you use a meeting room, lend you equipment, authorize you to use their organization’s name, or donate money or other resources.

Sell your products and services.

Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, the one that has the greatest immediate impact on your bottom line is selling your product or service for you. Your network member could persuade a prospect to write a check for your product, then have you mail or deliver the product to your new customer. If you do so swiftly and cordially, you may gain a new lifelong customer.

Suppose a customer you know well tells you a friend of his wants to buy your product. How should you respond? While your interest is still hot, let your friend, the customer, take your product and sell it to his friend, the prospect (if he plans to see his friend in the near future, of course).

This set of five finishes the series of 15 ways others can promote you and your business. Last week I shared the second part of this series with, “Five More Ways Others Can Promote You”. Put your networking circle to work for you with these fifteen total ways others can promote you to generate new business.


Home-based Business

Home-based Business Networking

I’m often asked these days about how to network and build a referral business as a home-based business owner. During the eight years I worked from home (The photo is the home I started BNI in), I learned a great deal about the pros and cons of working from home and how it related to my networking efforts. Although most of the networking techniques that work for any business work for most home-based businesses, there are at least two important issues that I think apply to a home-based business more than any other.

Promoting My Home-based Business

My opinion in this area rubs some home-based business owners the wrong way, but I feel strongly about it: When networking, I don’t recommend you share that you run a home-based business. I believe telling people you meet in networking environments that you “work from home” has either a neutral or a negative impact because it either doesn’t matter to them, or they’re not impressed that you operate your business out of your house.

When I worked from home, I rarely, if ever, met anyone who said, “Oh, fantastic, you work from home–I must do business with you!” Working from home was just not something that I found made people “want” to do business with me. Therefore, why should it be emphasized when meeting people through networking?

Often, when I attend a networking function, I see someone stand, say what they do, how people can refer them and then add at the end that he or she runs a home-based business. I believe that bit of information will generally have no impact or a negative impact on what people think of your potential abilities–it almost never has a positive impact on people wanting to do business with you.

The Cave-Dweller Syndrome.

I find that many home-based business owners seriously suffer from Cave-Dweller Syndrome. Home-based business owners who want to build your business through word of mouth, you have to be visible and active in the community by participating in various networking groups and/or professional associations that will get you out of your cave. These kinds of groups include Casual Contact Networks (like your local chamber of commerce), Business Development Networks (like my own BNI), professional organizations (almost all professions have one), and service clubs (like the Rotary or Lions Clubs).

Look for other ways to be very visible in your circle of influence. For example, be active in your child’s school PTA or your church. Keep your eye open for opportunities to be involved in groups of people who come together for a common cause.

The bottom line is, networking doesn’t change too much whether your business is based from home or a corporate location. The dynamics of developing a strong word-of-mouth-based business transcend your business location. The caveat for the home-based business owner is that you’ll have to be even more diligent and focused on finding those networking opportunities.

 

Five More Ways Others Can Promote

Five More Ways Others Can Promote You

If you’re like most people, you aren’t prepared to accept help at the moment it’s offered. You let an opportunity slip by because you haven’t given enough thought to the kinds of help you need. When help is offered, it’s to your advantage to be prepared and to respond by stating a specific need. Don’t let the next opportunity for others to help slip through your fingers! Being prepared with some simple examples of five more ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro that can make a real difference in the success of your business.

Make initial contact with prospects and referral sources.

Instead of just giving you the phone number and address of an important prospect, a network member can phone, email or meet the prospect first and tell them about you. When you make contact with the prospect, he will be expecting to hear from you and will know something about you. Better yet, your source can help you build new relationships faster through a personal introduction to that person. Ideally, they would pro­vide you with key information about the prospect while also telling the prospect a few things about you, your business and some of the things you and the prospect have in common.

Arrange a meeting on your behalf.

When one of your sources tells you about a person you should meet or someone you consider a key contact, they can help you immensely by coordinating a meeting. Ideally, they’ll not only call the contact and set a specific date, time and location for the meeting, but they’ll also attend the meeting with you.

Publish information for you.

Network members may be able to get information about you and your business printed in publications they subscribe to and in which they have some input or influence. For example, a referral source who belongs to an association that publishes a newsletter might help you get an article published or persuade the editor to run a story about you. Many companies showcase topic-specific experts in their newsletters; you could become the expert in your field for some of these.

Form strategic alliances with you.

Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, this one has the greatest potential for long-term gain for both parties. When you engage in a strategic alliance, you’re developing a formal relationship with another business owner that says you’ll refer him busi­ness whenever possible and they’ll do the same. This works best in businesses that are complementary.

For example, a handyman would find advantages in forming an alliance with a real estate agent, because they continually encounter people who need home repair work done. Conversely, a handyman probably deals with homeowners who are considering selling their homes after the handyman is finished making repairs. Such strategic alliances can work with a number of other businesses (CPAs and financial advisors, mortgage brokers and real estate agents, hotel salespeople and event planners and so on). The key is to find the person with the right complementary busi­ness and then make it work for both of you.

Connect with you through online networks.

When people connect with you online, you can notify them about your events or projects and you can receive the same kind of information from them. They can see your business profile and biographical data and can refer you to people in their networks. Once con­nected, they can provide recommendations and testimonials for the rest of your network to view.

Last week I shared the first part of this series with, “Five Ways Others Can Promote You”. Put your networking circle to work for you with these additional ways others can promote you to generate new business. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ten ideas ready to go. 

 

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