Finding an Accountability Partnerstring(33) "Finding an Accountability Partner"

Back when my son was a teenager and I would ask him the dreaded question–“How is that homework coming along?”–I would receive the typical, teenage, roll-of-the-eyes response, and the standard “I was going to finish it after dinner” answer.

Even if you don’t have kids, at one time you were a kid so I’m sure just about everybody can identify with this scenario. As a child, being held accountable for completing your homework was never fun. However, let’s face it–when we are held accountable for our actions, performance, and commitments, it tends to heighten our awareness of what we are responsible for and what we have promised to do.

So it is with networking for your business: accountability is important.  When you make a commitment to yourself to get out of your office or home office and attend productive networking functions, the reality is that sometimes other things come up and we forget those promises. What to do?

Accountability for Networking Your Business

Find an accountability partner. That way, every time you commit to a new networking strategy or to attending a business networking event, your accountability partner can help keep you to the task. Have a weekly phone or video call to meet with them and identify your strategy for the week. Because you have someone waiting to hear about your progress, it’s likely that you will be more inclined to focus on the task at hand.

To find the right accountability partner, ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  1. Who do I highly respect as a business colleague?
  2. Who would not be afraid to push me a little to keep me focused?
  3. Who is one person I would never want to disappoint?
  4. Who is also interested in networking their business so that we can be accountability partners for each other?
  5. Who knows me–and my tendency to procrastinate?
  6. Who will follow through on this commitment to me?
  7. Who has the time to help me?

Put at least one person for each question; you may have multiple names for some of the questions. By answering all seven of them, you can identify potential accountability partners for yourself and then reach out to them to have a conversation.

Think about it.  No one likes to knowingly disappoint someone else, and no one wants to feel like their time is wasted by someone else. With an accountability partner, the urge to comply compels us to perform at a higher level and this leads to greater networking results.

Do you have a story about how someone held you accountable in a way that really benefited you?  If so, I’d love to hear it. Share in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Be a Value-Added Friendstring(23) "Be a Value-Added Friend"

Do the people who know you consider their relationship with you to be valuable? Are you a “Value-Added Friend?”

At first glance, it may seem like a way of allowing friends and connections to “use” you. In reality, it helps solidify the likelihood of a long-term relationship with that individual.

Powerful and successful businesspeople want their networks to be strong, deep, and broad. You want your relationships to help strengthen, deepen, and expand the networks of others. You may be wondering, “So how do I do this?”

How do you become a Value-Added Friend?

First, you need to get to know the people who make up your referral team. You want to do more than scratch the surface – you want to really know these people, and you want them to feel like they know you as well. Be aware of how they react to you, and don’t ask them questions that are too personal or invasive. Ask questions about their business, about their hobbies and passions. Understand their goals and learn how you can help them. Once you help someone achieve a goal, you become a Value-Added Friend.

So, how do we become that Value-Added Friend?

  1. Build quality relationships.
    Relationships are a time commitment; they are an investment of your time that is certainly worthwhile. Go beyond your everyday, standard business interactions to truly deepen your relationships and get to know your friends and referral partners. The stronger your friendship, the more you can expect from each other’s networking efforts.
  2. Do more than just show up.
    Seriously. You need to establish credibility and trust with the people at your business networking meetings or events, so just showing up and saying, “I’m here” isn’t going to cut it. You can become Visible with your attendance; however, to build Credibility in the VCP Process®, you have to participate and connect with others while you’re there. Refer back to Number 1 above.
  3. Remember the Givers Gain® philosophy.
    Before you ask what others can do for you, ask what you can do for them. This is perhaps the most powerful way to deepen and widen your networks. You can offer to make an introduction; linking someone to a person you know can lead to profound outcomes. Sharing your knowledge or areas of your skills and expertise can be an impactful contribution to the success of others.

I remind everyone: Do not underestimate the power of helping other people.
When you help someone in a way that serves their needs, you begin to build a professional relationship. Get to know them, learn about their business and their goals. Be sincere when you offer to help, AND THEN DO IT! Sometimes, it is the small ways we help that lead to big results for our friends.

What are you doing to become a Value-Added Friend?




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We All Meet People for a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetimestring(56) "We All Meet People for a Reason, a Season, or a Lifetime"

Relationships for a Reason

Our human connections are tapestries woven with the threads of emotions, experiences, and memories. Throughout our lives we come across individuals who leave a lasting impact on our journey. Some relationships endure for a lifetime while others are transient and serve a purpose during a phase of our life. The concept that we meet people for reasons – be it to learn something, experience personal growth, or even to challenge our perspectives, offers deep insights into the ever- changing nature of human connections.

There are moments in life when certain individuals enter our lives seemingly by chance or fate. These encounters often occur at crossroads acting as catalysts for transformation and progress. It could be a mentor who guides us through obstacles, a friend who provides comfort during challenging times or even an encounter with a stranger that reshapes our entire perspective on life.

For example, think about that colleague who supportively pushes you beyond your comfort zone by challenging your ideas and encouraging innovation. Although this relationship may not last forever, the knowledge and skills honed during this interaction hold value. Similarly, friendships formed during periods of your life such as college roommates or travel companions might be fleeting in duration but can leave lasting impressions.

These connections teach us lessons about ourselves, shape our beliefs, and prepare us for future endeavors.

Relationships for a Season

Like the changing seasons, the dynamics of our relationships also change. Some connections are formed based on shared experiences, common interests or being in proximity to each other. These connections can be incredibly meaningful, although they are often temporary in nature. We refer to them as ” relationships” because they are intense and intimate but have a built-in impermanence.

Think about the friendships we form during phases of life like childhood playmates, buddies from summer camp or colleagues at one of our first jobs. While these bonds can be deep and profound, circumstances often dictate how long they last. As life moves forward and priorities shift, geographical distances increase, leading to drifts in these relationships. Nevertheless, the memories we create together during these seasons stay with us forever and shape who we are.

Connections that Last a Lifetime

Amidst the nature of relationships there are a select few that withstand the test of time. These connections can grow deeper with each passing year. They are rooted in respect, trust, and unconditional caring. Whether they are lifelong friendships or romantic partnerships, the relationships become pillars in our lives.

Lifetime connections give us a sense of belongingness while providing stability and emotional nourishment throughout our journey. They bear witness to our victories and hardships, providing unwavering support and understanding. These relationships necessitate effort, communication, and compromise. The rewards they bring— bonds, shared memories, and mutual growth—are truly unmatched.

Embracing the Transient Nature of Relationships with Gratitude

Understanding that we encounter people in our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime allows us to navigate relationships with clarity, purposefulness, and grace. Embracing the aspect of connections enables us to value them for what they are—opportunities for personal development, learning experiences and enrichment. By realizing the worth of relationships, we can cherish the moments we share rather than bemoaning their inevitable conclusion.

On the one hand, nurturing connections requires investment of time and energy as well as patience and vulnerability. By prioritizing these relationships in our lives while setting boundaries and maintaining communication channels, we cultivate bonds that withstand the trials of time; this enriches our lives immeasurably.

Embracing the pattern of relationships fosters resilience, adaptability, and gratitude. Recognizing that each person comes into our lives with a purpose—to teach us something challenging or inspiring, or even to love us—empowers us to approach relationships with an open heart and an open mind. By letting go of expectations while embracing change and expressing appreciation for each connection we make along the way, the result is a series of relationships that truly enhance our lives.

The concept that we might come across individuals for a short period or a long period throughout our lives provides insights into the intricate fabric of human relationships. Whether these connections are fleeting or long lasting, each one serves a purpose in shaping our experiences, perspectives and who we are as individuals. By embracing the nature of some relationships, nurturing those that last a lifetime, and approaching every interaction with intentionality and gratitude, we foster genuine connections that greatly enhance our lives.

Therefore, as we navigate the complexities of connecting with people throughout our lives, let us treasure each encounter, acknowledging the value and significance of every relationship regardless of its duration.

Easier Introductions at Networking Eventsstring(41) "Easier Introductions at Networking Events"

Some people really dislike networking events. Why? Well, there are a few common reasons, although the one I hear time after time is: anxiety about introducing yourself to new contacts.

You may be familiar with that nervous feeling as you meet someone new and try to start a conversation. Here are some suggestions that you can include in your introduction with new people that may help take the edge off for you.

  • Remember to tell others your name and your business!
    Yes, this really does happen. I was at a networking event, and someone came over to talk to me. We spoke for a few minutes about their business and their experience with referral networking before they had to excuse themselves. I then I realized that I had never gotten their name, even though they knew mine. If your goal is to introduce yourself to a new contact and leave a lasting impression, definitely make sure you tell them your name.
  • Find common ground.
    One of the best ways to quickly begin establishing a relationship is to find something about your new contact that you can relate to, or you have in common. This also alleviates the pressure when having a conversation with someone new, as it will spark topics you are both comfortable talking about.
  • Ask questions about the other person.
    People love to talk about themselves and their business. Everyone finds it easy to talk about things they know well, and what do people know better than themselves? This will allow the other person to take the lead on the conversation in a positive way, and it helps you learn more about them. The caveat here is to make sure you are asking genuine questions. Asking nonsense questions just to keep asking questions is quite transparent and will negatively impact how you are perceived.
  • Be memorable.
    If you can stand out from the crowd and make yourself unforgettable (in a positive way), you are more likely to develop professional relationships. This is most effective when you are in a one-to-one meeting with somebody rather than in a group setting. When appropriate, use a quirk about yourself, your business, etc., that can resonate with that specific person. This one requires a bit of social intelligence, but when it is done right, it is highly effective.

When you implement these suggestions, you may find it much easier to introduce yourself to someone new at a networking event. Then do it again at the next meeting or event. The more you do it, the easier it gets; nervousness and anxiety diminish, and confidence builds. 

How do you handle meeting someone new at networking events? Leave your reply below.




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Creating Strategic Alliancesstring(28) "Creating Strategic Alliances"

A strategic alliance is an arrangement between two companies or organizations that decide to share resources to undertake a specific, mutually beneficial project. In effective strategic alliances, each member will contribute to the success of the project. It is unlikely that any one person is going to turn your business around with a dramatic single impact. However, over a period of time they can make a difference. Through a series of small, consistent actions, you can gradually enhance your relationships to the point that they yield big results.

It is important to keep a positive attitude; don’t give up if there seems to be no immediate payoff. The key is to keep in touch. The best strategic alliances stay connected several times over the course of a year, with some of the meetings being in-person if possible. During those conversations, you want to explore and discuss some simple ways that you can help each other, which gradually strengthens the relationship.

Most people who achieve success with forging strong strategic alliances, and similarly with networking, view the process as a series of small actions taken with many different people. It is not a get-rich-quick scheme. They don’t write somebody off just because that person doesn’t add something to their business immediately.

If you are a member of a business networking group, take a look at the members of your group in the context of potential referral, and potential strategic alliance, partners. Each of them represents the possibility to contribute to your success; they layer a little bit of success on top of another layer of success for you.

Strategic Alliances – the Right Way

I experienced this in BNI®. One time, there were two organizations that attempted to create a strategic alliance with my organization, and I got two substantially different results.

The first company contacted me for a conversation. It was a case of “Glad to meet you—now, let’s get married!” I got the sense that they wanted to GIVE me the privilege of sharing my entire database of contacts with them based on who they were and how amazing it would be for me to say I had stood in their shadow! (You may be thinking, “What??”)

When I explained our corporate philosophy, and my own personal belief, that deepening a business alliance and building a relationship with a partner business took time and effort before getting to the “let’s get married” stage, they abruptly ended the call.

By contrast, this is how the second organization approached me. The well-known head of the company personally called and began the conversation by asking me what our company goals were. I shared them with him, and his next statement was, “We want to help you achieve that!”

From there it went from “Glad to meet you” to “Let’s get to know each other better!” He shared that he had ideas that could help us achieve our corporate goal, and help our members do better business at the same time. When I explained that our philosophy as a networking organization was one of cooperation, and that our belief was that anything that would truly be of value to either of us would take time, he completely got it, respected it, and supported it!

Our relationship developed organically over time and became a strategic alliance that was mutually beneficial for both organizations. (I never did hear much about that first company after our brief interaction….)

As I look back over several decades of building a global organization, I clearly see that no one person or a single company brought something to the table that launched us to the next level. Rather, it was the cumulative effect of many people, many strategic alliances, and many well-nurtured relationships with companies that were willing to get to know us and gradually over time, build each other’s businesses through our combined efforts. Each contact, each opportunity to reach out to one another, and each mutually beneficial activity served as just one more spoke in the wheel as we rolled along toward success.

I highly recommend that if you want to create strategic alliance relationships with other companies, be sure that you work with organizations that respect your corporate culture and are willing to work within it. They also need to clearly understand that the process takes time. When both of you reach this level of understanding, you will be well on your way to building success through strategic alliances.

My 8-Year-Old Self and Technologystring(33) "My 8-Year-Old Self and Technology"

A few years ago, I was walking to my gate at the Toronto, Canada airport. The terminal was crowded and as I walked, I heard a soft but steady swooshing sound coming up behind me. I looked up and saw a red monorail drive past. I immediately had an incredible flashback to my first visit to Disneyland, California, circa 1964. I was about 8 years old, and I was in awe of all the amazing things that I witnessed, most of which were in the Tomorrowland exhibits.

The Disney monorail was the first daily operating monorail in the United States. In the flashback of my early visit to the park, I remembered wondering if something like this would ever be commonplace. It was amazing to see it operating at the Toronto airport, especially since it was going right through the building, much like it did in Tomorrowland many years ago.

As I stood at the airport watching the monorail go by, I realized that during that same Disneyland visit (or one soon after), I also spent time gawking at the first ‘push button’ telephones and the first ‘touch screen’ computer monitor (it had 9 sections and the only thing you could do was play tic-tac-toe on it). The push button phones transitioned into regular use in the following decade, but the touch screen technology took many more years to become common in our daily lives.

There was also the Carousel of the Future! I remember the video phone concept they were showing. The vision back then was to have the phone company do video conferencing. Well, that certainly has come to pass – in many more and different ways than people thought about back then.

Today, I can see who is at my front door while I am in my office, which is a separate building, 52 steps from the back of my house. I carry my telephone in my pocket and can send messages, information, and photographs to people around the country, and around the world, in a minute or less. I attend meetings, conduct trainings, and host webinars, meeting people from different time zones and different countries, while sitting in my office with my computer. I make guest appearances and do media interviews without getting on an airplane, train, or even driving my car.

The glimpse of future technology and the possibilities it could bring was fascinating to 8-year-old me. I’ve seen and used many of those futuristic ideas that were on display in Disneyland, and I know there are many more to come.

What technology did you first see at a Disney Park or at a World’s Fair? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comment section below.

Creating a Successful Elevator Pitchstring(36) "Creating a Successful Elevator Pitch"

For a long time, I really didn’t like the expression “elevator pitch.” It just drove me crazy. Then everybody started using it all over the world and it has become part of the language of business. The “elevator pitch” metaphor developed out of the hypothetical situation 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? And that becomes your elevator pitch.

It is important to remember that this is not a sales pitch. It is a creative and succinct way to generate interest in the listener about your business.

These are my seven rules for creating an engaging elevator pitch.

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

An unsolicited pitch in an elevator is basically face-to-face cold calling, and very uncomfortable for the one receiving it. I’ve been a victim. Don’t be a perpetrator. Unless someone asks you what you do, simply say “hello” or “good day” to them. The elevator pitch is meant to be utilized outside of the elevator and in the proper environment.

2. Make it compact and real.

It needs to be short. This is a quick pitch; you’re not reading from War and Peace. Your pitch should be more like a work of art than a science project. Make it succinct and expressive; something you practice carefully, and present professionally and cohesively. You also need to be natural. You want to rehearse, so that you are authentic and can talk without sounding rehearsed.

3. K.I.S.S.

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

4. Avoid using jargon.

Be aware of speaking “your work” language – industry terms or acronyms that you regularly use as a professional with others in your industry. At any point while you’re talking, if 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 actually on an elevator, but you really have lost them because they are not understanding you.)

5. Share your USP.

Your USP is your Unique Selling Proposition. It is a brief summary of your business that helps others understand the value of what you do. One example of how to craft a concise USP is to alter a bland, general statement such as, “I’m a coach and consultant.” to something like this instead, “I help people work less, make more, and create referrals for life.” This is short, powerful, and informative. It is the perfect combination for part of an effective elevator pitch.

6. Start with the benefits.

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%.” or “I help people double the number of new clients they take on per month.” You want to focus on the benefits to the client “after” the product or service you provide, which invites conversation about how you do that.

7. Pass the eyebrow test.

Another good friend of mine, Sam Horn, author of Talking on Eggshells: Soft Skills for Hard Conversations, and Someday is Not a Day of the Week, writes about the “eyebrow test.” If what you say to someone causes their eyebrows to go up, you’ve got their attention! 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.

A successful elevator pitch is a clear and concise message that communicates who you are, what you do, and how you can help others. It should be memorable and easy to understand so that people can easily refer you to potential clients or customers.

When you attend networking, business, and even casual events, introduce yourself to others using your elevator pitch. This will help them remember you and what you do. 

I’d like to hear about your elevator pitch. Share it below, thanks!




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Avoid Networking Fatiguestring(24) "Avoid Networking Fatigue"

I’m going to share a secret that may sound counterintuitive: you can actually network TOO much.

What??? The Founder of BNI®, the world’s largest networking organization, says you can network TOO MUCH?

Yep. That’s right.

Now you may be wondering, “How can that be?” Well, let me tell you a little story.

Years ago, when I was traveling through the midwestern U.S., I heard people talking about a woman they referred to as the Queen of Networking. She was known as the consummate networker. She had hundreds, perhaps thousands of contacts, which gave her a broad network of people from all different walks of life. She was well known in her community as the go-to person for anything that anybody needed. Those who had seen her said she was at every networking event and managed to talk to each person in the room.

It was no surprise that she and I ended up at the same event one evening. She pulled me aside to talk. She seemed anxious and upset, and I wondered why the Queen was so distraught. Then she revealed something unexpected. “Ivan,” she said, “I know everyone keeps calling me the Queen of Networking, but I’m not seeing any increase in business whatsoever!” She said that her networking efforts weren’t producing results for her. She continued to tell me about all the groups that she went to, all the people she met, how she had made very good contacts, but… she wasn’t getting any solid business from all her efforts.

Shocked, I asked her how many events she was attending each week. She replied, “Between five and ten a week.” Then I was really shocked! That was her problem–she was spreading herself too thin!

Think about the VCP Process® – Visibility leads to Credibility which leads to Profitability. She wasn’t seeing real results, even with her obvious talent for making contacts and gaining visibility, because she never got to the heart of what business networking is all about – building relationships.  She was focused so heavily on visibility that she had lost sight of the credibility part.

She was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t learning how to actually “work” the business networks she had created. She neglected to build meaningful relationships with people and develop credibility with them; and you can’t get to profitability without credibility.

Activity is Not an Accomplishment

She had the same problem that many businesspeople have: when it comes to their networking efforts, they view “activity” as an “accomplishment”. This usually results in having a network that is a mile wide, but only an inch deep. You have to take the next, and most important, step with the people in a wide-reaching network. You must devote the time to develop the kind of rapport with some of them that allows them to get to know, like, and trust you, and want to pass business referrals to you.

Many professionals, full of energy and excitement, attend lots of networking meetings. Their lack of results is not due to a lack of activity, effort, or enthusiasm about getting out there and meeting new people. The problem is they are constantly going here and going there, and they never stop long enough to invest the necessary time to establish the kind of long-term roots that can lead to an ongoing, reciprocal referral relationship.

I told the Queen, “If your network is a mile long but only an inch deep, you’ll never have a powerful network,” I suggested that she do more one-to-one meetings with potential referral partners and focus on building mutually beneficial relationships to establish her credibility in the community.

The moral of this story? Don’t try to be the “Queen” or “King” of networking. If you focus solely on making as many contacts as possible, constantly being on the go, and trying to keep track of hundreds of people you don’t really know, networking fatigue is sure to follow.

Instead, focus your business networking efforts on building relationships. You’ll see an improvement in referrals, and you will also establish deeper credibility within your network.



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Are you Saying Too Much?string(24) "Are you Saying Too Much?"

I see so many professionals who try to tell everything they do in 30 seconds or less when talking about their business with potential referral sources. It goes by so quickly that the listeners miss most of it; many of them tune out after the first few items on the list. They are giving out lots of information without explanation and saying it way too fast. It’s like they are trying to get others to drink from a firehose and expecting them to absorb all of it. When you say too much, they hear nothing.

I encourage you to focus on one thing at a time from your areas of expertise. Remember, you are not marketing to your referral partners. Rather, you are training them on who and what is a good referral for you and your business. Your networking team is there to keep an eye out for your potential clients. When you “target talk”, that is, you explain exactly what type of customer you are looking for, the result will be better and more qualified referrals.

Specific is Terrific with LCDs

If you can break the description about your business down to its smallest components – very specific aspects about each of your products and services – and then focus on just one aspect of your business during your networking presentations, it works much better than providing a long laundry list of things you do or using a vague and meaningless term like “full-service.”

I call these your LCDs – Lowest Common Denominators. By using the LCDs when talking about your business, you will find that you become much more effective in training your referral partners. They will learn more about each thing you do and be able to recognize when they are in front of someone who really does need your services.

For instance, a residential real estate professional might give different presentations about first-time home buyers, townhomes, single-family-homes, investment properties, downsizing for empty-nesters, buying a larger home for a growing family, and so forth.

This skill set is especially productive when you are meeting weekly with a strong contact network such as BNI®. The difference between trying to say it all each week and focusing on one aspect of your business each week is huge! The impact that this will have on your referral sources is significant. As you discuss each LCD, share an example with a client story, things you can show and tell that will cement this part of your business in your referral sources’ minds.

When it comes to telling people about what you do, the deeper you go into the specifics the greater your success will be. Specific really is terrific – talk about ONE product or ONE service that you offer, and the benefit that it provides to the customer.

One of the Best Presentations I’ve Ever Seen

Many years ago, I visited a BNI chapter meeting where I witnessed one of the best presentations I’ve ever heard at a weekly networking meeting. The member who gave it was a florist who focused on the details of a single rose. Watch the video to hear the story of what the florist did and said that made his presentation so successful. You will learn why specificity is key in talking about exactly what it is that you do.

If you struggle to come up with talking points about your business at your weekly networking meetings, watch this video for ideas. I offer a simple strategy for pre-planning your presentation topics for an entire year. You will never again have to “wing it” for your presentations because of uncertainty in how to describe what you do.

Remember, focus on ONE aspect of your business at networking meetings to give your referral partners a clear understanding of how you can help the people that they know. Avoid saying too much if you want to be heard and remembered.

I’d love to hear how LCDs and specific presentations have worked for you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks!

Want Business Referrals? Go Get Them!string(37) "Want Business Referrals? Go Get Them!"

Through all my years in business networking, the best referral efforts and results that I’ve seen have happened by design. It is intentional; it does not happen by accident or wishful thinking. It seems that many businesspeople view referral marketing somewhat like the weather: “Sure, it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Generating referrals through business networking efforts can be planned and nurtured.  Business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, employees, and even individuals who serve in a volunteer capacity can get results with a well-structured system – a referral plan for their business.

Too often, I have seen professionals waiting for business to come and walk through their door. They think because they are good at what they do, people will come flocking to them. Well, the truth is – it doesn’t work that way! You must take charge and bring the business in to you, no matter what your occupation or how good you are at what you do.

Think about someone who dreams of opening their own store. They have a business plan, they find their ideal location, they spend their time, money, and energy getting everything set up and preparing for the opening day and they are so excited when that day arrives! The lights go on, the door is unlocked, the sign says OPEN and…. people are just walking by. The line of customers they imagined never materializes. And then they realize – they have to get out there and meet the people who are their potential clients, and meet the people who know the people who could be their customers.

So it is with referral marketing. You can’t simply wait for people to come to you. If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals. How do you do that?

Find a business networking group in your area and visit one of their meetings. Make connections with other professionals who may have clients that need your products or services. Begin building relationships with like-minded people who want to grow their business AND help others do the same.

The bottom line is – don’t wait around. Do something! Develop a business networking plan that puts you in contact with the right people. Make your plan and then take action.  




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Humility: A Trait of Great Networkersstring(37) "Humility: A Trait of Great Networkers"

Humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less. Some of the best networkers I know are humble. In fact, many of the most successful people I’ve ever met have been remarkably humble. Humility and being successful are not mutually exclusive.

I remember going to a political function when I was in my late teens. I had decided that I wanted to help with a campaign for a particular individual whose platform I appreciated. Then… I met him. Someone who was high up in his campaign introduced me to him. When he realized that I was a lowly college student, I almost immediately lost his attention. His eyes were darting across the room looking for someone more successful than me. He ended up being very dismissive and came across as incredibly arrogant.

After that encounter, I decided not to help in his campaign. Instead, I picked someone running for a different office. This person was engaging and friendly, and he was respectful of people that didn’t appear to have much to offer. He spoke with everyone, rich or poor, educated or uneducated. He welcomed my involvement and activity in his campaign. Within six months, I was running his entire regional campaign office. I put hundreds of hours into the campaign and helped that person win office.
That experience taught me a lot about the kind of leader I wanted to be as I became more successful in life.

Humility Costs Nothing

Humility costs nothing and yet it yields tremendous returns. Being humble sounds simple enough, however, many people wonder what it actually looks like. I have observed that there are many ways to show humility. These are some important traits that humble people display:

  1. First and foremost, their ego does not enter the room before they do.
    Jack Canfield, who is a friend and has been my guest on The BNI Podcast, is a very humble person. He has sold over 500 million books, and when I’ve gone out to dinner with him, he’s easy to talk to and very personable; he never tells people who he is. He is a great example of this trait.
  2. They are approachable – they are friendly and easy to talk with. Their body language is open and inviting; they smile and say hello to others at events and networking meetings.
  3. A humble person is a good listener and asks questions during a conversation. They show a genuine interest when talking to others, asking them about their business; asking what do they love about what they do? They talk about the other person more than they talk about themselves.
  4. They maintain eye contact in a conversation and stay engaged in the discussion. This shows genuine interest in whomever they are talking with. That is one of the things that Richard Branson does amazing well. I remember going to a party once and taking my 17-year-old son with me. I have a photograph from that evening of him talking to my son, Trey, with complete eye contact and total engagement in the discussion. Branson is a billionaire, he didn’t have to give a young kid his time, but he did and it’s a great example of how humility plays out positively in being a great networker.
  5. They are comfortable making people feel at ease and thanking people when appropriate. Gratitude is often lacking in today’s business world. Expressing genuine and sincere gratitude is a wonderful trait of humility.
  6. Humble individuals tend to have an abundance mentality; they have an awareness that there is more than enough for everyone. They tend to have a positive attitude and focus on solutions rather than simply complaining about problems.
  7. They are situationally aware and have strong emotional intelligence.
    Emotional Intelligence is the ability to manage relationships with other people and humble individuals do this well.
  8. They are not self-absorbed. They know their strengths and are comfortable with who they are. They don’t behave as though the world revolves around them. They certainly don’t have the Prima Donna Syndrome.

Most importantly, they practice what I call Givers Gain®, which is predicated on the age-old concept of “what goes around, comes around.” Humble people approach life with a certain amount of altruism and strive to make a difference in the lives of others.

As we become more successful in life, it is critical to maintain one’s humility. That humility will serve you well if you want to connect with people. No one is perfect with this all the time. The process is a journey, not a destination. It is something we must always strive for. 

If you achieve success in business, demonstrate real humility regardless of people’s expectations. Be someone who is engaging and caring, as well as knowledgeable and successful. Above all, remember that humble people don’t think less of themselves, they just think of themselves less.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, leave a comment below. Thank you.




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Gain Visibility Through Volunteeringstring(36) "Gain Visibility Through Volunteering"

One of the first steps to take when networking for your business is to become more visible in the community. Remember that people need to know you, like you and trust you in order to refer you. Building connections relies on fostering familiarity, trust, and likability among peers who can potentially refer you to the people they know.

Volunteering can position you to meet key people in your community. It connects you with people who share your passion. It gives you opportunities to demonstrate your talents, skills, and integrity. It can also help you build credibility by showing your ability to follow up and do what you say you are going to do. It instantly expands the depth and breadth of your network.

People who volunteer demonstrate their commitment to a cause without concern for personal gain. Therefore, your volunteering efforts should be with organizations or causes for which you hold genuine interest and concern. If the group’s administrators or other volunteers perceive that you are in it primarily for your own gain, your visibility will work against you and will undermine your own goals.

Choosing the Right Organization

Volunteering is not a recreational activity. It is a serious commitment to help address and fulfill societal needs. Choosing the right organization or cause that aligns with your passions and interests requires a thoughtful and strategic approach.

Ask yourself these nine questions:

  1. What do you enjoy doing for yourself in your leisure time?
  2. What hobbies bring you fulfillment and satisfaction?
  3. Are there any sports or games that you excel in and can teach to others?
  4. What aspects of life bring you joy and satisfaction?
  5. Which social, political, or health issues are you passionate about because it personally relates to you, your family, or your friends?
  6. Based on your answers to the first five questions, what are three organizations that appeal to you and align with your interests? Examples include youth leagues, clubs, libraries, activist groups, homeless shelters, religious groups, food banks. Select the one that resonates with you the most and conduct thorough research online and in the community.
  7. After you have researched this group, does it offer opportunities conducive to your personal or professional objectives? If so, visit the group to “try it on” – gauge the atmosphere and dynamics. You may want to visit a few times.
  8. After you have visited this group, reflect on your experience. Do you still want to commit your time and effort? If so, continue to #9.
  9. Are other group members satisfied with the organization? Identify three people representing different tenures to interview and assess their satisfaction with the group. (Consider choosing a new member, a two- to three-year member, and a seasoned five+ years member to interview.)

Once you’ve done the research required to satisfactorily answer these nine questions, join the selected group and begin to volunteer to bolster your visibility. Seek leadership roles that will demonstrate your strengths, talents, and skills. In other words, volunteer and become visible. It’s a great way to build your personal network and solidify your presence within it.

A multifaceted approach is required to expand your visibility and build credibility through volunteering.

Strategic Engagement: Identify opportunities within the organization where you can effectively leverage your skills and expertise.

Consistent Participation: Regular involvement in volunteer activities reinforces your commitment and fosters deeper connections with fellow members.

Effective Communication: Articulate your objectives and aspirations clearly to fellow volunteers and organizational leader to foster mutual understanding and collaboration.

Proactive Leadership: Assume proactive leadership roles to showcase your capabilities and influence positive change within the organization.

Continuous Learning: Embrace opportunities for personal and professional development within the volunteering sphere which will enrich your skill set.

Volunteering serves as an invaluable platform to contribute to the greater good of the community while increasing your network and positioning yourself as a reliable and esteemed figure within your professional sphere.

By embracing the spirit of altruism and active participation, you can expand your network and also leave a lasting impact on the causes that you champion. It’s through these collective efforts that we forge stronger, more vibrant communities that are grounded in the values of empathy, collaboration, and shared purpose.

Are you already an active volunteer?  If so, what organization do you volunteer with and how has it helped you gain visibility within your community?  I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below.  Thank you!

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