Networking Groups: Who Is Responsible?string(38) "Networking Groups: Who Is Responsible?"

I would like to share a story with you.

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

 This is a little story about four people named
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was
Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but
Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when
Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

So the question is: When it comes to networking groups, who is responsible?

Who is responsible for growth of the group, the level of professionalism, for making the meetings positive and fun? Who is responsible for bringing visitors, creating a welcoming atmosphere, and for mentoring new members?

Equal Responsibility

When we are part of a group or a team, we all share equal responsibility for the success of that group. This is true in our household, our workplace, our recreational teams, our charitable organizations, and our business networking groups.

The privilege of membership includes the responsibility of participation. Successful networking groups thrive because each member contributes to the overall success, enabling them to reap a part of the rewards.

The responsibility of participation includes:

– Attending all the meetings, arriving on time, and staying until the end.

– Consistently inviting and bringing visitors and potential members.

– Getting to know fellow members and building mutually beneficial business relationships.

– Actively seeking referrals to business opportunities for fellow members.

– Following the established guidelines and processes for the networking group.

– Serving in leadership, mentorship, and support roles for the benefit of the group.

– Sharing a positive attitude with a focus on solutions rather than problems.

When each person in a networking group accepts the responsibility of their membership and contributes with an attitude of Givers Gain®, they ALL share the rewards.

There will always be challenging times – in life and in business. Our network can help us navigate those challenges with support and friendship.

Remember, EVERYBODY is responsible for their networking group’s success.

How to Leverage International Connectionsstring(41) "How to Leverage International Connections"

In 2018, I wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com about the future of face-to-face being online. I felt it was inevitable that business networking would go online because of technology, such as mixed reality and holographic imaging, becoming more and more prevalent in the next decade.

Thankfully the technology was available to help us transition with the global challenges of 2020 and now we are doing much of our work, and our networking, online. With our adaptability and willingness to change as solutions and options become available, we are able to network with businesspeople all around the world. Those options bring new opportunities for all of us to develop and leverage international connections for our business.

Identify Who You Want to Meet

If you want to expand and scale your business internationally, you need to identify the types of international businesses that you want to work with.

What country or continent are they located in?
What specific industry are they in?
What products or services do they specialize in?
Do you want to work with suppliers or buyers?
Who is the person from that company that you want to meet?

With that information, you are then able to find the types of organizations and events that can give you the kinds of contacts you’re looking for. Remember, networking is a contact sport; you must go out, make the effort, and get involved; become engaged in the organizations where you invest in membership. You also have to diversify the kinds of networks that you belong to. A local Chamber of Commerce and Industry is a fantastic network in your local community.

If you’re looking for international business, you want be part of a global organization that does international business. Attend events like the annual BNI® Global Convention, where thousands of professionals from dozens of countries are looking to meet and build relationships with other businesspeople. Trade groups, business councils, and professional peer organizations are all excellent places to create mutually beneficial connections.

 

Know the Type of Referrals You Want to Receive

Your company may be in a position to open new international revenue streams by finding opportunities to sell your products or services in a new country. Developing connections and relationships with the people you previously identified can lead to the referrals for those opportunities.

Other companies, particularly those that provide local services, may just want to get additional business through international referrals. I have seen dentists, and even a landscape architect, get new clients from international connections that led to referrals. Again, it is important to be specific with what you want and then identify those potential connections to help you reach your goals.

Our current technology provides many networking options, making it easier than ever before for everyone to participate, engage, and network on a global level. I’d love to know how you have leveraged international connections to grow your business. Share in the comments below.

Networking Takes Time and Money

Networking Takes Time and Moneystring(31) "Networking Takes Time and Money"

A BNI® Executive Director told me that before becoming a BNI Member in 2014, they had a home security business for 16 years. For five of those years, they spent $5,000 USD a month to advertise in the Yellow Pages part of their local phonebook. They spent $300,000 USD in five years to get some leads! They only got leads – people who were calling around to two or three companies listed in the phone book. As the leads dwindled, they invested in a membership in BNI, a global networking organization, and within two years the amount of business they received was at the highest level of what was achieved from all the Yellow Pages advertising. Their monetary investment in their membership was substantially less than $5,000.

Business networking takes time AND money. To be effective, you must invest in both.
By investing the time to build relationships with fellow members of the group, this person received real referrals – a warm introduction to customers who were looking for their services.

Oftentimes people get so caught up in the money part of networking, that they neglect the building relationships part and the time that is necessary for successful results. Paying more money does not always mean that you get more results.     

Track Your Results

How do you know if your networking efforts are paying off for you? You can do some simple tracking.
How many business organizations do you belong to?
How much time do you spend in networking efforts with people in that organization?
How much money does it cost to belong to the group? This includes travel to meetings, meals, and other expenses in addition to the membership fee.
How much money have you made from business generated in each of the organizations?
Which people in your groups are the ones giving you referrals that result in closed business?
Are you consistently thanking those people, and are you looking for ways to also give referrals to them

If you are paying for group memberships and are simply “busy” with networking activities without creating deep business relationships, it is hard to reach the goals that you want to achieve. By measuring the time and money you give to your networking efforts, you will be able to adjust your networking strategies to make them more effective in getting the results you want.

Thank You for Closed Business

In BNI, the members use a mechanism called Thank You for Closed Business (TYFCB) to track the amount of business generated between, and for, each other. Reporting the TYFCB provides a way to recognize the people who pass quality referrals to other members. It also allows each BNI Chapter to see the combined results of their networking efforts in tangible numbers. Many of the 10,400+ global BNI chapters regularly generate $1+ million USD each month for their members.

In fact, in the rolling last 12 months, BNI Members generated $18 Billion USD in Thank You for Closed Business! That’s an enormous figure. Because it can be hard to imagine a billion of anything, we’ll explore that figure in another way.  

Let’s look at time – time measured in seconds. If you measured $1 Million in seconds, it would be 1.65 weeks. If you measured $1 Billion in seconds, it would be 31.7 years! And $18 Billion would be more than 570 years!! That is a LOT of business resulting from referrals between networking members!

Beyond the Dollar Figures

Yes, tracking our networking activities can show us the dollar figures that result from those efforts. However, there is more beyond those figures that may be harder to see. There is also the community impact. We all live in the smaller economies of our cities, towns, and neighborhoods. Those networking dollars help to stimulate local economies and contribute to the huge economic engine that is moving all over the globe.

It takes time to build a business – you have to spend time cold calling; you spend time talking to your existing clients to get referrals; you’re going to do advertising which costs money. Oh, and how do you make the money? You make the money by spending a lot of time doing direct selling. To me, networking is so much easier than direct selling. And it’s a great use of your time because it truly is about farming not hunting

You may be in business alone, but you do not have to BE alone in business when you are part of a powerful network. Successful business networking takes time AND money. Investing your time with like-minded, positive people, and building strong business relationships will help you reach your goals.

If you were paying $5,000 a year for your network – how would you treat it differently than you are now?  Try treating it like that type of investment and see what results you get.

Leadership Is More Than Managementstring(34) "Leadership Is More Than Management"

I recorded a video for a BNI® Global Support Team leadership program and thought it would have value for the followers of my blog.

I share two important concepts that I learned while studying under Warren Bennis at the University of Southern California, and also what I learned from a retired U.S. Army Brigadier General.

I invite you to watch this video and share it with your colleagues and fellow networkers.

There is a difference between management and leadership; leadership is MORE than management. Leadership is not about managing and complying. It is about motivating and inspiring. The important thing about Leadership is making a difference.

 

NOTE: Business Builders is an exclusive educational resource available to BNI Members and Directors.

Favorite Booksstring(14) "Favorite Books"

I recently shared this informal poll on my social media platforms:
“I would love to know which of my books is your favorite, and WHY it is special to you.”

I appreciate everyone who responded with their favorites, and I’d like to share some of the answers I received.

The book, Who’s In Your Room? The Secret to Creating Your Best Life, was identified as the favorite for most of the people who replied. Some of the comments were:
“As a therapist, I refer to it in sessions all the time.”
“It rocked my brain for days.”
“…it gives me perspective to regulate my immediate circle and surroundings.”

This is the premise of Who’s In Your Room? :

Imagine you live your life in one room, and that room has only ONE door, and that door is “Enter Only – No Exit”. Whoever comes through this door will be in your room, and in your life, forever!

This is a metaphor, however, what if it were true? Would you be more selective about the people that you let into your life? This book helps people identify their personal values and learn to set boundaries to live the life they want to live.

These three books were tied for second as the favorites among the others who replied:
Infinite Giving: The 7 Principles of Givers Gain®
Networking Like a Pro 2nd Edition
Room Full of Referrals

Comments included:
“Infinite Giving helps me check myself so I do not get overwhelmed.”
“I love Room Full of Referrals!”

What do you think – do you agree with the top choices?
Which of my books is YOUR favorite?

You can find my books on the ‘BOOKS’ tab on the upper right side of this page, and on Amazon.com.

The Longer You Hold Something, the Heavier It Becomes

The Longer You Hold Something, the Heavier It Becomesstring(53) "The Longer You Hold Something, the Heavier It Becomes"

A psychologist once walked around a room while teaching a stress management course and she raised a glass of water. Everyone expected her to ask the “Is the glass half empty or half full?” question. Instead, she asked, “How heavy is this glass of water?” The audience called out answers that ranged from eight ounces to 20 ounces.

She replied that the absolute weight doesn’t really matter. “What matters is how long I hold it,” she said, “If I hold it for a minute, it’s not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I have an ache in my arm. If I hold it for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed. In each case, the weight of the glass doesn’t change. But the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes.”

She continued to say that the stresses and worries in life are like that glass of water. Deal with them for a little while and nothing happens. Deal with them a little bit longer, and they begin to hurt. And if you deal with them all day long, day in and day out over time, you’ll feel paralyzed, incapable of doing anything, because of the weight of the worries.

The Way We View the World

We live in an age of sweeping conflict, widespread skepticism, and intense anxiety. Contention feels pervasive and balanced discourse is a thing of the past. Pundits regularly tell us what’s wrong with society. People complain like it’s an Olympic event. (I’ve checked – it is not.)

Gurus in the marketplace obsess over the massive problems they see in the world, and negativity seems to be part of the new normal. The last couple of years have been hard. It’s been a very stressful time for almost everyone. We all feel it.

I love astronomy and I’ve learned that by choosing different lenses or filters for my telescope, I can literally observe different things in the night sky. By changing the lens, the things I view can appear or disappear before my very eyes. Objects can be overwhelmingly bright and painful to view, or they can be a beautiful sight to behold.

I believe that our lives are similar. The lens you choose to view the world through influences your life in ways that will determine your future.

You Are Not Alone

Today, more than ever, your network can help you. When you are part of a caring and effective network, you are not alone. Your network can help you take some of the weight of your business, and your life, out of your arms and give you relief when there doesn’t seem to be any around you. With the support of our network, we’re getting through these challenging times because we have each other to help us believe and achieve.

Throughout my lifetime I’ve seen ordinary people do extraordinary things. I believe anyone can do extraordinary things with the right mindset, plan, and effort. I believe that our vision controls our perception, and our perception becomes our reality.

Set a vision that makes a difference to the people around you – then hold the vision, NOT the obstacles. This is the thing that is so difficult for people; they continuously focus on the obstacles. The truth is if you want to be successful, hold the vision, not the obstacles. Forget about the noise and distractions all around you. There have always been distractions; there will always be distractions. Focus on your vision.

Today is the Tomorrow you were so worried about Yesterday. Maybe it’s time to set the worries aside and put the vision in front. Let your network help you. You are not alone.

It’s important to recognize that we all have challenging times, all of us, myself included. The secret to getting through them is the lens that we look at life through, and the ability to focus on the VISION and not the obstacles. The more we all can do that, the more successful we’ll be in our professional life and in our personal life, as well.

I would love to hear how your network has helped you.

Thankfulnessstring(12) "Thankfulness"

When we live each day with an attitude of gratitude, being thankful becomes part of our daily lives. Today, I am really thankful for the opportunity to be able to travel.

For the next two weeks, I am traveling to Antarctica with Dorian, the youngest of my grown children.

You can see where I am each day on my Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/IvanMisner.BNIFounder 

Today I am Ushuaia, Argentina. Ushuaia is known as the southernmost city in the world, and its commercial pier is the world’s major port of departure for expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula.

I am excited and grateful to take this once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Thank you for being part of my journey!

The Book that Influenced My Focus on SOLUTIONSstring(46) "The Book that Influenced My Focus on SOLUTIONS"

What is it about human nature that causes many of us to focus so much about problems that we don’t spend enough time focusing on solutions?

I feel like I’ve spent my entire career nudging people to focus on solutions.
Why? What started my journey down the solutions path versus the problems path?

It was 1972. I was a high school Junior on the varsity football team. The head football coach gave us all a “bootlegged” cassette tape audio recording called Psycho-Cybernetics. He copied it for every football player on the team.

I listened to that tape over and over and over again. When I realized that the recording was just a summary of the book, Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz, I went out and bought the book because I wanted to know more. 

It’s amazing to me how it influenced the person that I was to become. The book that I bought in 1972 influenced my focus on solutions.

Words in the Book

Do any of these themes sound like a variation of something I might say?

“Decide what you want, not what you don’t want.”
“He visualized success.”
“Happiness does not lie in the future; it lies in the present.”
“His self-fulfilling prophecy made failure certain.”
“You make mistakes, mistakes don’t make you.”
“Think in terms of possibilities.”
“The choice is always up to you.”
“Old recordings can be changed.”
“Put more years of life and more life in your years.”

These are all words that are in the book. Words that became part of the foundation for BNI®, the organization I founded in 1985, and words that are woven into the messages that I have shared for many years through interviews, books, and presentations.

The Power of Positive Thinking

This book influenced me a good deal. Psycho-Cybernetics helped me think about the power of positive thinking and it is a concept that I have embraced for decades.

There are certainly other books out there, and there may be better books since this one came out in 1960. But it influenced me, and there are books out there that can influence YOU to focus on solutions, and not just problems.

We all have opportunities to make a difference in many people’s lives. Not by the problems we identify, but by the solutions we create when we keep the FOCUS ON SOLUTIONS.

How You Stand Changes Who You Meetstring(34) "How You Stand Changes Who You Meet"

When you are talking to other people at an in-person networking event, how you stand changes who you meet. This is a technique that I have talked about for many years and is a key element of my presentations. It can help with your business networking success.

Sometimes when you walk into a room full of people, you look around and have no idea where to start. You may think, “Who do I walk up to? Who do I talk to?” Some people may even think, “Who do I know? And why did I even come here?”

Open Twos and Open Threes

I wrote about the concepts of Open Twos and Open Threes in my book, Networking Like a Pro, Second Edition. The images shown above are from that book.

The first image is ‘Where do I start?’ It is a view that is looking down at one small corner of the room at a business networking event. There are different groups of people talking to each other, mixing and mingling.

The second image is ‘Closed Twos – Closed Threes’. It represents a view from a balcony, looking down into the room of networkers. A Closed Two is two people facing each other and standing perpendicular while having a conversation. A Closed Three is three people, all facing the center of a triangle shape.

It is difficult to walk up and break into closed conversations, especially if you don’t know any of the people in them.

The third image is ‘Open Twos – Open Threes’. An Open Two looks like the letter “V” with the two people standing askew more than directly facing each other. An Open Three looks more like the letter “U” with an open slot for someone to join in.

Look for the Open Groups

I recommend that when you go to networking meetings where you don’t know a lot of people, look for the Open Twos and Open Threes. There will probably be Open Fours and Open Fives, too. It is easy to walk up and introduce yourself to people who are standing in open positions. This is a subtle and effective way to enhance your networking efforts.

If you are a member of a business networking group, encourage your fellow members to stand in Open Twos and Open Threes to make people feel welcome. And then be friendly and inclusive when someone steps into your open group.

What About Introverts?

Introverts often tell me they have a hard time striking up a conversation at networking events. I recommend that introverted people look for larger open groups, such as an Open Four, Five, or even an Open Six. I know this sounds counterintuitive – why would they want to walk into a larger group?

It’s easy to slide into a larger group without interrupting the conversation and without being noticed right away. Eventually, someone will greet you with, “Hi, nice to meet you. What’s your name?” and then you’ll have a chance to introduce yourself.

It’s a counterintuitive concept that works extremely well. Walking into a larger open group is less abrupt than walking into an Open Two where you will have to speak right away because there are only two others in the conversation.


It is important to understand the concepts of Open Twos and Open Threes to become a better networker. When you have an open stance, you are going to meet a lot of people that you may not have had an opportunity to meet in the past. How you stand WILL change who you meet at business events.

How I Learned About the Power of Testimonials

How I Learned About the Power of Testimonialsstring(45) "How I Learned About the Power of Testimonials"

I learned about the power of testimonials in 1985 shortly after I started BNI®, the networking group I founded to get referrals for my consulting business.
At that time, there was only one chapter. During our weekly meetings, we followed an agenda similar to the one that over 10,400 BNI chapters use today. During the meeting, each member gave a weekly presentation about their business. Then we introduced our visitors, followed by our featured speaker’s presentation. After that, we passed referrals.

During this last part, if you had a referral to give to fellow members, you stood up when your turn came and said, “I have two referrals for Joe and one for Angela, and here’s what they are.” If you didn’t have any referrals, you simply said, “Pass,” and the next person would take their turn.

We’d been meeting for about two months, and at the end of one meeting the chiropractor in our group came to me and said, “Ivan, I haven’t gotten a single referral yet. I know it takes time, but here’s what concerns me: Nobody has even come up to talk to me or asked a question about chiropractic care. How can they refer me?”

I said, “You’re right. You’ve got to get them to use you so they can refer you. Why don’t you offer a free initial consultation to get them to come in and see what you do and how it works? Then they’ll be able to refer you. Here’s an idea. At next week’s meeting, just stand up and offer everyone a free first visit—even throw in an X-ray and do an adjustment—so they can see what chiropractic care is really all about.”

The next week when he did that, only one person out of the entire group said they would take him up on his offer. The chiropractor came up to me at the end of the meeting and said, “Brilliant idea, Ivan. They didn’t exactly flock to me.”

The Power of First-Hand Experience    

The following week, the meeting was moving along nicely, we were passing referrals, and it came around to this guy who had visited the chiropractor. He stood up, hesitated, looked at me, and said, “Ivan, I don’t have a referral today, but I don’t want to pass.”

As President of the chapter, I was running the meeting agenda, so I asked him, “Okay, then, uh . . . what do you want to do?” He said, “Well, I’d like to say a few words.” I said, “O-o-o-kay, well, uh, what do you want to say?”

He said, “Well, I just want to talk about Dr. Rubin. I had an X-ray done. He showed me all around his facility, explained all the things that he did, and then he did an adjustment.” He continued, “I’ve had lower back pain for about seven years. Nothing incapacitating, just a nagging ache that bothers me when I stand too long. For the first time in seven years, my back doesn’t hurt! You all are crazy if you don’t take him up on this offer! I just wanted to say that,” then he sat down.

I looked around the room and saw people picking up pens and filling out referral slips for the chiropractor. I thought, Wow! My agenda doesn’t work! You can’t just tell people to pass; you have to give them a chance to talk about the business they’ve done with other people! It’s critical!

That’s when we started the BNI Testimonial. From that point on, if you didn’t have a referral to give, you didn’t just pass. Instead, you gave a brief testimonial about the business you had done with another member of the group. That way, your experiences would become my experiences, and I could refer the member to somebody else.

My lesson about the power of good testimonials has helped BNI chapters around the world and can be beneficial to all networking groups. Without testimonials, networking groups are missing a great opportunity to generate more referrals for their members.

I invite you to share your experience about a good testimonial.

Richard Branson on Legacystring(25) "Richard Branson on Legacy"

I had an opportunity to go back to Necker Island this month where I spent the better part of a week talking to Richard Branson.  I asked my followers on social media to suggest questions that I could ask Richard and the one that I chose to focus on was about his legacy.  Specifically, what is the legacy that he feels he will leave behind?  

My impression of Richard is that he is not one to mull over his legacy in the world. That said, he is one to contemplate the impact that he has had on the people around him.

Surprisingly, the first thing he spoke about when I brought up the topic was his family.  In the end,” he said, “it is about your children and your family.  How you brought your children up and how they live on in your name is an important part of your legacy.”  I asked him for an example of how he did that with his children when they were young and he spoke about the family dinner table discussions.  He said, “it’s so much more interesting if you can throw out a discussion with kids and have a dinner table debate on the issue.”  He said that he “wanted them to learn about what’s going on in the world and most people don’t do that.”  For him, it was a way to guide and coach his children about issues in his community and the world and that learning is an important legacy to carry on.   

My experience of Richard is that he lives his life to the fullest.  Every day on the island he would swim a lap or kite sail around the entire island.  Then, he might go to a nearby island to ride his bike.  In fact, he just had a nasty bike accident as I am writing this blog where he thought he might have broken his hip.  Luckily, he did not. I private messaged him on our What’s App group saying: “I am so glad you are ok.  I’d suggest you slow down a bit but I do NOT think that phrase is in your vocabulary.”   The rest of the private What’s App group seemed to agree with that assessment.    

Also during the conversation with Richard about his legacy, he spoke about the planet and the need to reduce our carbon footprint whenever possible.  He described in detail how Necker Island was now virtually carbon neutral with a solar-panel powerplant covering a large portion of the island along with three massive windmills up on the hill supplying energy to the island.

He once told an interviewer that that “with extreme wealth comes extreme responsibility. And the responsibility for me is to invest in creating new businesses, create jobs, employ people, and to put money aside to tackle issues where we can make a difference.”

Richard said that “you must be driven by a purpose that is greater than yourself. I’d like to think I’ve lived a full life and made a difference but in the end, it’s about how you brought up your children and how they live on in your name.”

The Power of a Good Testimonialstring(31) "The Power of a Good Testimonial"

What is a testimonial and why does it matter?
A testimonial is a statement testifying to benefits received. It is based on personal knowledge or belief. A good testimonial can compel someone to action.

In business networking groups, a good testimonial from a trusted referral partner provides credibility for another person or company that can lead to new referrals from those who heard the testimonial.

The power of a good testimonial comes from the transference of trust, which creates the willingness to try those products and services personally, and/or recommend them to others.

Three Elements of a Good Testimonial

  1.   Focus on One Person

When sharing testimonials about people in your networking group, only talk about one person at a time. Talking about every single business where you had a good experience can be overwhelming to the person you’re conversing with. By focusing on ONE company in your testimonial, you can go into greater detail about the products and services you have used. Talk about your experience with that one businessperson and how good they were.

  1. Be Specific

Talking in generalities is ineffective. Saying “They’re great.” does very little to convey the extent of the positive experience you had. Instead, talk specifically about what makes your fellow member’s services good. What did they do right? How friendly, speedy, or communicative were they? How did you feel after the experience? The more specific you are, the better the testimonial will be remembered. Specific is terrific.

That phrase comes from Ken Blanchard’s book, The One Minute Manager, which says that effective praising must be specific.

  1. Give a First-Person Testimonial

Whenever possible, make the testimonial a first-person endorsement. Tell others about your personal experience with your networking group’s members, always being specific. Talk about the problem you had and the way that professional or company helped solve it.

If you have not yet used their products or services, have you personally talked to someone who has? If so, you can turn that third-person endorsement into a first-person testimonial by saying something like this:
“My client (or my friend, or my associate) told me that they hired this person to do this work for them and they did it really well. This is what they said…” Then be very specific about sharing the details of your client’s experience with that company, which will make the testimonial stronger. 

The power of a good testimonial is that it can become an instant referral multiplier. Remember that powerful testimonials focus on one person or company; they are first-person endorsements when possible; and they are very specific.
Have you experienced the power of a good testimonial? I would love to hear about it in the comments.

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