Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner®
Growing Forward Together

Growing Forward Together World Tour

It was very exciting to present the BNI Growing Forward Together World Tour over the past three days. Furthermore. this event was the first live global event in BNI’s 35-year history. On July 14th, 15th, and 16th we streamed live in over 70 countries on Facebook and YouTube. Thank you to all of the BNI members, directors and visitors who joined in this historic event

The broadcast was open to businesses, entrepreneurs and business executives focused on leapfrogging the “lockdown recession” and doing more and better business in 2020 and beyond. The presentations were watched by about 20,000 viewers worldwide in twelve different languages.

During each broadcast, I shared my vision for the future as well as my insights for business growth and personal success. Furthermore, I talked about refusing to participate in the recession and how BNI and its 270,000 members are taking action leading businesses around the world to foster global business recovery with business growth and professional success. Therefore, now is the time to thrive!

I want to thank the CEO of BNI, Graham Weihmiller, for his inspirational vision for the future and much more. Furthermore, I also want to personally thank the BNI marketing team for the planning, the marketing, and the amazing execution of this global event. For example, watch this fantastic video their team created to promote the event on social media.

 

 

Different people, different places, different countries, different faces, different cultures…

We all speak the language of referrals, growing forward together.

In case you missed the LIVE event, would like to see it again, or want to share it with others, here is the presentation in 12 different languages:

Chinese Subtitled Version        Thai Voiceover Version         Japanese Voiceover Version

Vietnamese Voiceover Version           Portuguese (Brazilian) Subtitled Version

Spanish Voiceover Version      Portuguese (Portugal) Subtitled Version        German Version (Pending)

Italian Voiceover Version       Spanish (Spain) Voiceover Version       Bulgarian Voiceover Version

English version below from Day Two

BNI brings so many people together across so many boundaries for such a productive purpose.  Therefore, we build meaningful relationships and extend our hand to help others grow, and they in turn help and support us in the essence of Givers Gain®. At BNI, we are Growing Forward Together.

Ruin Reputations

Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputations

Referral marketing is the most effective form of advertising. However, many approach referral marketing with an “Old Faithful” attitude. All they have to do is just show up weekly to their networking events and referral business to them will simply erupt regularly like this geyser. What they do not realize is that once their trust in you evaporates, so does the water. In referral marketing, your trust and your reputation are on the line all the time.  Therefore, you need to do what you say you are going to do. You need to be professional and do what you can to not ruin reputations with others.

When you give a referral, you give away a little bit of your reputation.

While giving a good referral will enhance your relationship, a bad referral will hurt it. This is extremely important when referring someone to your client or customer. If the person you referred does a poor job, your relationship with your client will suffer. You may even lose that customer due to the lack of trust they now have in you for giving them that bad referral. Now the geyser is dry.

Therefore, the biggest risk in referral marketing is not the person you are referring to someone. The biggest risks are the referral giver’s reputation and the risk to their business relationships with others. Get to know the people you are referring to others. Find out as much as you can about the services they offer. Plus, make sure they have integrity. If you do not take the time for this, your reputation is at risk. Finally, never give good referrals to people who do not want them or cannot handle them with the same integrity and professionalism you use with your clients. Do not be this guy. You do not want to refer someone to your client, and your client is expecting a geyser. However, the only result your client experiences is a dripping faucet in the middle of the night instead.

Everyone can Ruin Reputations

However, I am not saying that you accept 100% of the blame and responsibility for the bad referral. Referral marketing is more than just you. Everyone is involved in a threeway referral relationship. The person being referred to your client can do himself permanent damage by performing poorly or dishonestly. He agreed to a service contract or sales transaction with your client. What expectations has your client had in the past when working with you? You can share these same client expectations you experienced with the person you are referring to your client.

Even your client has some responsibility for the bad referral. Your client needs to clearly explain to you the exact service, product, or assistance they are looking to you to help them to find the right person to refer to them. Therefore, their expectation should be reasonable. If they are looking for a “small fountain” when discussing the possible referral with you, they should not be expecting a “large geyser” later on when working with the referral. However, they should also not be receiving a “little drip” either. Especially if they prepaid for the “fountain”.

Even Old Faithful is not as faithful as it used to be.

Tourists visit Yellowstone National Park in (mostly) Wyoming, USA every year to see the Old Faithful Geyser for its frequent and somewhat predictable eruptions. Rumors claimed that the eruptions occur hourly. People speak of the average time between eruptions. This is misleading and these rumors could ruin reputations with the tourists expecting to view the geyser based upon an exact schedule of when the geyser will erupt next. The mathematical average between eruptions of Old Faithful is currently 74 minutes, but it doesn’t like to act average! Intervals can range from 60-110 minutes. The world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful in Yellowstone, currently erupts around 20 times a day. These eruptions are predicted with a 90 percent confidence rate, within a 10-minute variation. I do love a good statistical report to end a story.

Networking Fundamentals

Networking Fundamentals

What is the one secret to success?  It is a question I receive often. The one secret is… there is no “one” secret.  Therefore, how can entrepreneurs achieve success? To be successful, there are four networking fundamentals that a business owner needs to focus on.

The Networking Fundamentals to Grow Your Business

  • Be Selective
  • Continuously add people to your network
  • Seek Engagement
  • Share Stories

The Secret to Success

Over my career, I have observed people with different personalities, backgrounds, and behavioral styles achieve success in life. Many times I wondered if there was a reoccurring theme running through their success stories that would clearly illustrate what creates success. Therefore, when I interviewed average business owners and entrepreneurs over the years, I asked them what they felt their secret to success was. They generally told me things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems.

I then asked many highly successful people who had obtained great wealth or personal success in business, sports, or science. They generally told me that their secret to success involved things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems. Sound familiar?

Everyone I interviewed or wrote about regarding the secret to success – from Buzz Aldrin to Erin Brockovich, from average businesspeople to undergraduate college students – gave me virtually the same answer. So if we all know what it takes to be successful…

Why are we all not as successful as we would like to be?

The truth is there is no great mystery. Very often, “success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge.”

When you hear successful people talk about the secret of their success, have you noticed that you rarely hear any real secret? What you do hear about is their unwavering adherence to some system or approach they believed in and followed with intensity and determination. Successful people focus on the goal and work through or around everything else. In sports, this is called “keeping your eye on the ball.”  They do this with a passion and a vision.

Success comes to those who have not only a passion and a vision but who also have persistence and commitment to perform the fundamentals over and over, continuing to work and learn until they can perform these networking fundamentals flawlessly. In the end, we already know what our goals are and how to achieve them. This is common knowledge, and it’s been around for a long, long time. Success is learning and practicing the four networking fundamentals.

life

You Are Not the Dumbest Thing You’ve Done in Life

If you ever feel like you’ve done a bonehead thing in business or life, this story might make you feel better.

The most memorable television interview I ever did in my life was my first “live” interview — which was very nearly my last live interview.

It was early 1995, and my first major book was hitting the shelves coast to coast. A cable station had invited me to talk about it on the Fairfield County Exchange morning show in Connecticut, right across the border from New York.

My publicist called me before the show and said, “Don’t forget that this is live. Completely live. Whatever you say will go on the air (this was long before the notorious Janet Jackson disaster – now everything is tape delayed). She also added that “They want you to do something visual for the show.”

I thought, This is networking, not lion taming. What can I do that’s visual? Run up and down the aisles handing out business cards? So I thought I’d put together a “tool box” with “networking tools” inside — badges, cardholders, and the like. Kind of goofy, but it was visual.

Somehow it didn’t feel like it was enough. So while the New York area Executive Director for BNI, was driving me to the show, I came up with an idea. “Lance,” I said, “what do you think about a magic trick?” I am an amateur magician, and I have a trick where I hide some flash cotton in my hand. I wave my hand, and a flame briefly flares up out of it. I happened to have it with me and I said, “Here’s what I’ll do. We get to the end of the interview, the interviewer holds up my book, and I say to her, ‘Careful! That’s hot!’ And then I take it from her, and whoosh! Flames shoot out of it.”

“Yeah, that’s good!” said Lance.

A little while later, I was sitting in the green room at the studio. It was a large cable station, and the show was a big, 90-minute show with 10 guests or more. I was sitting there with Lance and a bunch of other people, watching the show on a monitor, waiting to be called, when this guy dressed like a Native American walked by. Then another guy walked by dressed like a cop. Then another guy, dressed like a cowboy.

Someone joked, “Gee, it looks like the Village People!” Everyone laughed and we all agreed that wasn’t likely. Then I heard the on-air announcer say,

“Next on the Fairfield County Exchange”

The Village People!

life

life

and (long-pause with less excitement)

Dr. Ivan Misner to talk about networking.

 

I panicked. “Lance,” I said, “I’m gonna die here!”

I thought, better juice things up a notch. Make a bigger flame. So, I stuffed some more flash cotton into my palm.

The Village People went on. I watched them on the monitor. They were great! They were fun! They were hysterical! They did “Y-M-C-A,” shaping the letters with their bodies, of course. They were visual! The audience roared, screamed, jumped up and down.

I thought, I’m going on after them? Are you kidding me, I’m going to bomb, I’d better use a little more of that flash cotton.

The Village People kept the audience jumping and screaming for more. The show fell behind schedule. I knew my interview was going to be rushed. I was up next. I had the cold sweats.

The producer came over and said, “Get ready, we’re going to have to rush you on and mic you up.”

“Okay,” I said. I took another pinch of flash cotton (just for good measure) and followed him out of the room.

As the Village People came offstage to a rowdy standing ovation, I was seated in a chair in front of the cameras, half-facing the host and hostess. I was holding a copy of my book and I wanted to prepare them for what I was going to do. I said to the hostess, seated immediately to my right, “Hey, listen, when we get to the end of the interview, would you hold this up? Then I’ll say — ”

At that moment, the director, who could hear us through her headset, walked over to us and said, “No, no, no, I don’t want her holding the book up. We have a JPG of the cover, and we’ll show it in another shot.”

As soon as the director walked away, the hostess turned to me and saw that I was panicked and said, “I’m the host, I’ll decide. What do you want to do?” I started to explain the trick. As I got to the same point in the first attempt to explain, the director came back and said, “I told you, I don’t want her holding the book up! Okay, we’re on LIVE in five, four, three —”

The hostess whispered to me, “Just go ahead and do whatever you’re going to do. I’ll follow along.”

So we did the interview. I thought it was kind of a lame interview with the toolbox thing, especially following the Village People, but I knew we’d have a great ending.

As we finished up, she said, right on cue, “I have here a copy of Dr. Misner’s book.” She held it up. The director scowled.

I said, “Careful! That’s hot!” I reached over, took the book from her, and opened it up. And WHOOOOSH! a gigantic flame shot up. Huge, I mean really big. A much bigger flame than I expected and the book caught on fire.

The hostess screamed, “AAAAHHHH!” and she jumped into the lap of her co-host, waving her arms and hollering. The director was holding her head, yelling “Cut! Go to commercial!” The cameramen were blinded by the flash and came out from behind their cameras. I stomped on the book, trying to put out the fire. The audience laughed hysterically. Apparently I made quite an impression – just not the one I was hoping for!

The hostess, still sitting in her co-host’s lap, said, “Oh, thank God I didn’t swear on live television!” Her co-host looked off-camera, snapped his fingers, and yelled, “Wardrobe! new pants for her, please!”

I looked over at Lance who was just off stage. He put two thumbs up and said, “Now, that was visual! But we should go now.”

In most places around the world, I may be considered an expert on networking, but in Connecticut, I think I’m considered an arsonist. So, no matter how embarrassed you may feel by some stupid thing you’ve done in life – just think of this story and you won’t feel so bad.

difference

Make a Difference in Someone’s Life

My previous blog this week was about the 2020 Misner Leadership Scholarship winner, Jenna Valdez. My wife and I have been issuing these scholarships since 1999 to worthy students at Gladstone who have been actively engaged in leadership during their tenure at the school. When we issue the scholarship each year, we ask the recipient to help young people when they are an adult. We ask that they continue to be a leader by contributing to others in the future and to make a difference in someone’s life.

The leadership experience I received while at Gladstone changed the direction of my life. It was an integral part in helping to shape the person that I would become as an adult. It laid the foundation for many of the choices I made in college and throughout my professional career. There were individuals in my life who made a difference in my life. In this five-minute video, I tell the story of how one of these people really made a positive impact on my life. Back in high school, he helped to shape me into who I am today. He believed in me and gave me a chance when it seemed that no one else would. I learned from him to take time every day to make a difference in someone’s life.

Who made a difference in your life?

It is important to recognize the people who have made a difference in our lives. Therefore, it is important to acknowledge and understand how they positively impacted us. It can help us to gain clarity about ourselves as individuals about our personal values and ambitions. There probably is someone you can immediately call to mind who has impacted you and really made a difference in your life. Whether it happened recently or during your formative years, they made a difference in your life. Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Everyone who got where he is has had to begin where he was.”  Therefore, I firmly believe that our teachers, educators, and mentors play a huge part in helping us to get from where we began to where we want to go.

Please share your story below about a person you are grateful to. Let us know how they positively influenced your life and made a difference in your life. I would love to read your story about someone who impacted you in a way that helped you get where you are today.

scholarship

The Misner Leadership Scholarship 2020

The student leadership program at Gladstone High School (my old alma mater) in Azusa, California, made a huge difference in the man I was to become. As a result of the experience I had at Gladstone, I wanted to give back to deserving students who also had a positive experience in leadership roles at GHS. For that reason, Beth and I created the Misner Leadership Scholarship which awards $2,000 towards college to a student engaged in leadership activities at GHS every year. I have been giving this out for 21 years to outstanding students in the leadership program at Gladstone.

The 2020 Misner Leadership Scholarship winner is Jenna Valdez.

Miss Valdez was incredibly deserving because of her involvement in leadership related programs at Gladstone High School. We were impressed with Jenna’s commitment and her involvement in various leadership roles at Gladstone High. Jenna was the Senior President for her class. Plus, she was the Student Board Member for her school with the Azusa Unified School District Board of Education. Jenna’s photo above is from Miss Valdez’s speech as Senior President during the Gladstone High School’s virtual graduation ceremony. You can watch her speech here. Congratulations Jenna Valdez and the entire Gladstone High School Class of 2020.

While colleges may casually consider “leadership” as part of their scholarship criteria for applicants, we believe that it doesn’t receive the emphasis it deserves. The leadership experience I received while at Gladstone changed the direction of my life. It was an integral part in helping to shape the person that I would become as an adult. It laid the foundation for many of the choices I made in college and throughout my professional career. You might find this personal story about my experience with leadership roles at GHS to be of interest.

The scholarship was given by the Misner Family Foundation.

LinkedIn

Stop! Don’t Pitch on LinkedIn

Raise your hand if you’ve been cold-called on LinkedIn? OK, I can’t really see you but, I’m guessing most of you have.  I know I have.  It happens to me almost on a daily basis on LinkedIn. Let me give you a real-life example of a recent one. I recently accepted a request to connect with me on LinkedIn from a person who I’ll call Greg.

I’m calling him Greg because… well, that was his name.

When he sent the request, he wrote to me and said,

“I love connecting with founders of companies where we can share mutual connections.  Let’s connect and share insights if you’re open to it?”

I accepted. He wrote back.

Thanks for connecting with me Ivan, I appreciate it!  Anything exciting you’re working on at BNI? Let me know if I can be a resource to you in any way, and thanks again for connecting!

So far, so good.  This was a great start.  But wait… two days later (without waiting for my reply) he wrote his pitch:

Hi Ivan, We have developed a new generation project management tool that leverages artificial intelligence and that allows you to automate your teamwork and always know that you have the best organization in place. I’m sure it would be a great help for you and your teammates in BNI as we already have many clients from your industry using it. You can discover it here with this link if you are interested:  [I’m leaving it out to protect the guilty.] Hope you find it useful and I’d love to hear any feedback you have! All the best, Greg

OK, so now I knew he wasn’t really connecting to share insights.  He was connecting to pitch me.  I didn’t respond. He wrote again a few days later.  He said,

Hi Ivan, I hope you are doing well. I’m contacting you because I really need your help and have something great for you and your business in return. We are a young startup and have created a revolutionary intelligent project management tool that leverages artificial intelligence to automatically plan the work for you. There is no such product that exists today and the increase of performance that you can get with it is just mind-blowing. You can discover our software here: [Leaving out for the guilty again.] and I would be glad to exchange with you on the subject and show you how it works and how it can be a game-changer for your business. We will also offer you amazing pricing conditions as being part of our early adopters. I hope you can help me out and we will for sure over-deliver for you in return. Let’s talk? Best regards, Greg

I so did not respond to that. He wrote again a couple of days later.

Hi, Ivan Hope, you found our site valuable!   I’d love to share some insights with you over a quick call. When would you be available? Greg

I didn’t respond. The next day he wrote, Hey Ivan – making sure you saw my last message.  Any thoughts?

Yes, I had plenty of thoughts, none of which would be appropriate to share.  So, instead, I wrote back… No thanks.

He responded almost immediately, Hi Ivan. Thanks for the feedback.  For my personal knowledge, may I ask you why?

Hmm, I thought – does he really want to know why?  OK, I decided, I will tell him why. I wrote back.

Because you don’t really know what I do, you don’t know anything about me (other than what you’ve read), and we have no relationship (which, if you knew anything about me, you’d know is important).  This is a “cold-call” via LinkedIn and it is against everything I teach in my business.  This “pitch” is the very thing I write about NOT doing to people.  You asked and that is the unvarnished truth.

He replied almost immediately, Interesting. So how do I reach out to you?

I replied.

I do business by referral.  That takes time and effort.  I recognize that “cold-calling” does as well.  I just choose not to do business that way and it is a strategy that has worked well for me and most of the people who follow my work.

He replied almost immediately.

I get a lot of referrals. But right now I’m reaching out to people like you in a cold way because that’s the only way I can potentially get to talk to them. I was just asking for some help as a young and dynamic entrepreneur that has a really disrupting product. Remember how it was hard in the beginning…

I responded,

I do.  That’s how I learned that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.  It’s all about the relationships.  That’s how I built the business.  Reaching out “cold” is not the only way to talk to people.  It is the most expedient way to “feel” like you are doing something but not the only way to do it and I would argue – not the best way.  Those are my thoughts on the subject.  I need to run now. Use the advice, don’t use the advice, that is up to you. Good luck. Ivan

I also sent him a link about the VCP Process in networking.  I’ve never heard from him again.

Now, I don’t want to pick on LinkedIn.  It can happen on any social media platform.  It’s happened to me on Facebook, Twitter,  and even BNI Connect (I know – that one is really frustrating to see). This is not just a LinkedIn issue.  However, it does seem to happen a lot more there for me.  In either case, cold-calling is cold-calling no matter what form it takes.  But, it never hurts to ask, right?  Wrong.  Check out my video here to learn why: https://ivanmisner.com/never-hurts-ask-right/

Master the Art of Networking

Master the Art of Networking

Networking is more than just shaking hands and passing out business cards, it is about building your “social capital.” Networking is more about “farming” than it is about “hunting.” It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. It’s about realizing the capital that comes from building social relationships. Master the art of networking with these ten tips:

1. Follow up on referrals.

If you present an opportunity, whether it is a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up successfully, it is no secret that you will eventually stop wasting your time sending referrals to this person.

2. Have a positive attitude.

A negative attitude makes people dislike being around you and drives away referrals. However, a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family, and associates to them.

4. Remain trustworthy.

When you refer one person to another, you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact or valuable information to someone who cannot be trusted to handle it well.

5. Practice good listening skills.

Our success as networkers depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. Communicate well, listen, and learn.

6. Always network.

Master networkers are never off duty. Networking is so natural to them that they can be found networking in the grocery store line, online, and while working from home. After this “Great Pause”, we will soon be able to network again at chamber mixers and networking meetings.

7. Thank people.

Gratitude is sorely lacking in today’s business world. Expressing gratitude to business associates and clients is just another building block in the cultivation of relationships that will lead to increased referrals. People like to refer others to business professionals that go above and beyond. Thanking others at every opportunity will help you stand out from the crowd.

8. Help others.

Master networkers keep their eyes and ears open for opportunities to advance other people’s interests whenever they can. Helping others can be done in a variety of ways, from literally showing up to help with an office move to clipping a helpful and interesting article and mailing it to an associate or client.

9. Be sincere.

If you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it. Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One of the best ways to develop this trait is to give your undivided attention to the people you are networking with.

10. Work the art of networking.

Master networkers do not let any opportunity to work their networks pass them by. They manage their contacts, organize their e-mail address files, and carry their referral partners’ business cards as well as their own. They set up appointments to get better acquainted with new contacts so that they can learn as much about them as possible so that they can truly become part of each other’s networks.

Do you see the trend with these ten points? They all tie into long-term relationship building. People who take the time to build their social capital are the ones who will have new business referred to them over and over. The key is to build mutually beneficial business relationships. Only then will you succeed to master the art of networking.

Social Capital

Build Social Capital by Networking

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 will experience benefits that can greatly enrich your life as well as multiply your material returns many times over. Investing in your networking is one of the best investments you can make to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network. Below, I share my 4 step process to build your social capital, the international currency of networking.

Social Capital

This is acquired through networking because successful networking is all about building and maintaining solid, professional relationships. The trouble is we don’t have the natural community-like business relationships that existed before. Many business owners hardly know their neighbors, let alone the local businesspeople in town. Therefore, networking is critical to an individual’s success in business.

Effectively developing your networking can be a daunting task. However, doing so within a structured, organized networking framework will leverage your efforts. You begin building your capital to positively impact your bottom line.

Here are some keys to creating social capital

  • Give your clients a personal call
  • Call all the people who have referred business to you
  • List 50 people to stay in touch with
  • Follow up with everyone

As you invest your time in developing your networking, you are increasing your bottom line. Strive to make the most effective use of this investment. Do everything possible to thoroughly enhance the relationships you develop in the coming year because social capital leads to improved financial capital.

Watch the video and then take a minute to leave a comment below. I would love to hear your story about how investing in your social capital significantly paid off for you.

Public Speaking

Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking

People have ranked the fear of public speaking higher than the fear of dying. They would rather be in the coffin than giving the eulogy at a funeral.   Standing and talking to an audience can be frightening, especially if it is for more than a couple of minutes. As a business owner, you may find yourself giving a sixty-second weekly presentation at a networking meeting, a ten-minute presentation at a chamber function, or a forty-minute educational presentation to a prospect. Take a deep breath, you can do it.

Five Tips to Conquer Your Fear of Public Speaking:

1) Prepare, prepare, prepare.

Do not wing it!  Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.  Print out your remarks in a very large font. It will be easier to read with or without your glasses.  Plus, this will help you to not lose your place in your presentation.

2) Be specific and talk about the things you know best.

Do not try to teach everything you do.  Instead, focus on sharing with the audience something of significance.  Focus on just one or two areas of your business, the topics you feel you understand the best. This will increase your comfort level and reduce stress.

3)  Use visuals or PowerPoint slides to support your presentation. 

If you are worried about stage fright, these can help you stay focused and add to your presentation. You will be less fearful when the audience is looking at something besides you.  Avoid reading from your PowerPoint slides.  Create slides with photos and graphics that tell your story without text. PowerPoint should support your presentation, not be your presentation.

4) Remember, you are the expert. 

In the eyes of the audience, you are the expert and they want to hear what you have to say.  They want to learn something from you.  If you focus on what you know best, you will feel more confident and be more credible.  Believe in yourself and in your message.

5)  Be creative. 

Find a way to communicate that makes you comfortable.  Don’t be afraid to be different.  Surprise your audience.  Walk around the stage or up into the seats.  People get tired of the same old approach and are invigorated by something unexpected.  Have fun with your message; it will help you turn your nervous energy into positive energy.  The audience will feel it and before you know it, your fear of public speaking is gone.

You should do a presentation that you feel comfortable with. Think creatively about what you know and what you feel comfortable doing to express that knowledge. You will become better and better at public speaking. You will discover that opportunities will develop to speak publically in larger audiences over time. Take a breath. It is good to be a little nervous.  Just convert that into positive energy, and you will have the audience in the palm of your hand.

Business Networking Diversity

Business Networking Diversity

I believe that it is important to build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people with different interests and backgrounds.  The only thing that they should have in common with you is that they should be really good at what they do.  Create a personal network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.

It is human nature to build friendships with people that are like us.  The problem with surrounding ourselves with similar people is that they also tend to have similar contacts and know the same people as us.  When networking, it may be difficult to make connections with new people or companies with whom we desire to do business. In running a large business networking organization for over the past three decades, I often speak to people who tell me they want to network exclusively business professionals who have similar clients.  Although it is good to include these people in your personal network, networking with them exclusively would be a tremendous mistake. When it comes to business networking diversity, you never know who people know.  One of the important keys to being successful at building a powerful personal network is diversity.

A diverse personal network enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors or “linchpins” in your network.  Linchpins are people who in some way cross over between two or more clusters or groups of individuals; this allows them to link groups of people together easily.  The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network. The strongest networking groups I have seen over the years are generally the groups that are diverse.  I believe that one of the problems in understanding this concept is a somewhat built-in bias that many people have about networking with individuals that are outside their normal frame of reference.  Let me share a story:

An incredible voice, an incredible connection from networking diversity.

Patti, a BNI Director, arrived a little early to a BNI meeting that met in a private meeting room and noticed an older gentleman setting up coffee mugs in preparation for the meeting.  She struck up a conversation with the man while waiting for the BNI members to arrive.  In talking to him, she was really taken by the amazing tenor of his voice.  She mentioned to him that he had an incredible voice and asked what he did before this.  The gentleman informed her that he used to be a commentator for CNN!  He went on to share with Patti that in his later years, he wanted to work in a less hectic job as well as live closer to his daughter.  He decided to take on the job of managing these private meeting rooms because it gave him an opportunity to be close to his family while having a less hectic career later in life.

Later during the meeting, one of the BNI members, Don, mentioned in his featured presentation that his goal is to host a radio talk show someday. He was looking for some contacts that could help him pursue this dream.  After the meeting, Patti asked Don… “Do you see that guy over there (pointing to the ex-CNN commentator)?  Have you seen him before?”  “Yea,” said Don, “he’s the guy who sets up the coffee for our meeting.”  Patti said to Don, “Did you know that he used to be a broadcaster for CNN?”  Don said, “I had no idea!!!”  Patti suggested that Don introduce himself. Don had seen the man on many occasions but had not struck up a conversation with him because he felt that they had little, if anything, in common.  The truth is when it comes to networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connector for you to a whole world of people that you might not otherwise be able to meet. This resulted in creating an incredible connection for Don in the broadcasting industry. Don now hosts a local radio talk show.

Diversity in your network is the smart thing and the right thing to do.

G.A.I.N.S. Exchange

The G.A.I.N.S. Exchange Approach to Networking

If you want to be successful in generating referrals, it is crucial to find out as much as you can about the members of your network. And there are five critical things that you must know if you truly want to be a productive networker. These five things are not mysterious secrets; they are facts we are exposed to every day but often pay little attention to because we are not aware of the benefits we can gain by sharing what I call the G.A.I.N.S. Exchange approach to networking. If you know the categories of the G.A.I.N.S. Exchange and use them effectively, you can strengthen your relationships, build a strong business, and live a better life. Of course, the exchange is a two-way street: Not only should you know these things about others, but you should also share the same type of information about yourself with them.

  • Goals
  • Accomplishments
  • Interests
  • Networks
  • Skills

Goals

Goals are the financial, educational, and personal business objectives you want to achieve for yourself and for the people who are important to you. You need to clearly and specifically define your own goals and have a clear picture of the goals of others. 

Accomplishments

Accomplishments tell you more about a person because people like to talk about the things they are proud of. Therefore, engage others in casual conversations to encourage them to talk about their accomplishments. Sharing your accomplishments with them may lead to mutual interests or connections that can be mutually beneficial.  

Interests

The things you enjoy doing can help you connect with others because people are more willing to spend time with those who share their interests. Knowing other people’s interests makes it easier for you to help them in some way. Let them know your interests as well. If you and your contact share many of the same interests, it will strengthen your relationship. 

Networks

Most people have a broad network of individuals they associate with for either business or personal reasons.  The question is, how well you know them? The people you know are connected, directly and indirectly, with people you don’t know. Each of us has sources in abundance that we do not effectively cultivate.

Skills

The more you know about the talents of the people in your network, the better equipped you are to refer to them when someone you know is looking for someone with that skill. Therefore, identify the special skills you have and share your skills with others to help business relationships grow as well.

The best way to develop a strong relationship with others is by helping them to achieve something important to them. Some of your best insight into others comes from knowing what goals they have, what they have already accomplished, and what they are passionate about. Their passions are their most important interests because they are something they love to do and could do all day long. If you can tap the resources represented by their network of contacts, you can significantly improve your overall networking. The more they know about your skills, the faster your name will come to mind when an opportunity arises in which your own networking might play a part.

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