BNI Archives - Page 3 of 11 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Networking: Men, Women, and Diversity

Charlie&Ivan-MvWIN

 

In this video (click on the graphic above to access the video), I speak with Charlie Lawson, networking expert and National Director of BNI® UK & Ireland, to unfold the differences between men and women in networking.  While men tend to be more transactional in the way they network, women are more relational and understanding these differences can really be an advantage when it comes to achieving success from your networking efforts.

During a survey of 12,000 people, it was found that those who are more relational gain more business and are overall more proficient networkers.  However, just because women are more likely to generate new business through referrals, this doesn’t mean that only they should have a place in networking groups.  In order to have the most successful networking group possible, there needs to be a great amount of diversity.  It’s ideal to have a blend of different people because that diversity is an important aspect of successful networking.

The more diverse a group is, the more connected it becomes.  When networking groups become more connected, deeper relationships are formed, ultimately leading to more referrals and greater success.

Do you or your networking group have any good tactics for seeking out a diverse array of professionals with whom to network?   If so, please share them in the comment forum below.  If not, make it your goal this week to come up with some ways to do so–you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of untapped potential for new referrals to gain! 

Treat Loyalty Like Royalty

In this video, my lovely wife Beth brings up a phrase she has often heard me mention in many of my presentations and in various conversations over the years–“Treat Loyalty Like Royalty”–and she asks me to explain what exactly the phrase means to me.  Beth goes on to reveal that she believes just as strongly as I do in the importance of treating people like royalty when they’ve consistently shown you loyalty and commitment in one way or another.

Whether they are employees or people you do business with, if you treat others like royalty when they show you loyalty, your ‘return on investment,’ so to speak will be beyond worth your efforts.  After watching the video, I’d love to hear about some of your experiences where you’ve worked with someone who has been loyal to you and how treating them very well in return has been well worth your efforts . . . or, also, how you worked with someone who you were very loyal to, how they treated you like royalty, and how it paid off for both parties in the long run.  Please share your story/stories in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

May I Take Your Photo?–A Lesson in Great Customer Service

Givers Gain Art

I was at the BNI® U.S. National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee last week and every day, room service would come up and deliver my meals (often, right as a meeting in my suite was wrapping up).   Leslie (pictured below) was the employee who most often made the deliveries during the last part of my stay. On one of these days, I had a group of ten BNI Directors in my suite. They were kind enough to give me a Givers Gain® plaque (pictured at right) made by one of their local members.

Leslie--Omni

We started to gather around to get a photo and Leslie said, “Would you like me to take the picture?”  Now that’s not a big surprise, employees at hotels and restaurants have become accustomed to taking photos of the many people going through their venues. But here was the unusual part; she then said to everyone – “Okay, everybody give me all your cameras–I’ll take a photo with each of them.” She then dutifully accepted each camera and phone and, one by one, took many photographs making sure that everyone got their own picture.

While I was watching all of this, it struck me that she not only didn’t act “put-out” by having one camera after another given to her – she happily took each picture patiently and professionally, and smiled and chatted while she took each and every photo as though she were taking photos of her own family. I couldn’t help but think that there was some supervisor downstairs wondering what was taking her so long. The truth is, she was giving the guests at her hotel a very nice experience.

It made me start to think about each trip that Leslie made to the room. She was courteous, friendly, helpful, and attentive. I was so wrapped up in “the business of a running a conference” that I didn’t really notice just how good she really was until things started winding down for me.

So, for the record – to Leslie’s supervisor at the Omni Hotel in Nashville: Please know that Leslie was working diligently at creating a great guest experience. So much so, that I told the hotel manager that Leslie should be teaching customer service training – she’s that good. Thank you, Leslie – your stellar service was well noted (it may have taken me a few days – but I noticed).

I highly recommend that you stay in this hotel if you are heading to Nashville. Here is a link to the Omni Nashville: https://www.omnihotels.com/hotels/nashville

If you’ve had a terrific customer service experience in the past, I’d love for you to share it in the comment forum below because I’m very interested in hearing about it–I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on what it was specifically that made your experience great.

P.S.–Many of you know that I radically altered my diet and, because of that, my wife Beth and I work closely with the hotel chefs when we travel. Well, Chef Harker from the Omni was also incredible (much like Leslie)–he’s one of the best chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with during my travels.  Thank you, Chef Harker!

BNI Business Index Results for 2013

Over 1,000 business people from every populated continent in the world responded to the BNI Business Index for year-end, 2013.  According to the survey results, almost 76% of the respondents felt that business was better today than in 2012.  That’s up over 9% from the 2011 survey.    In addition, only 6.1% felt that it was declining in the 2013 survey which is down from the 9.6% that said that business was declining in 2011.

How is Business

The most promising news was the hiring trend numbers.  The 2013 survey found that 55.3% of the respondents said that they would be or possibly would be, hiring in the 2013 survey compared to an anemic 42.9% in 2011.

Why the Improvement?

The three most common reasons cited for growth by the respondents was restructuring, niche marketing, and networking.

Restructuring was a common theme relating to many respondents.  Comments such as: “one of the reasons my business keeps growing is that I… adapt my offerings to support the goals [of my clients].”  Reorganizing showed up in responses like: I’ve “reorganized staff and cut expenses and it is starting to pay off.” “My number one goal was to reduce overhead to the max, and as well as “refocusing our services back to our core competencies… and better communication” has helped substantially.

Two comments that summed up many of the respondents beliefs were: “I’ve changed the way I do business,” and I “can’t keep doing the same old thing if it’s not working.  You have to re-invent yourself.”

Other respondents focused on a niche market.  Such as those who said things such as: “last year I became clearer about my target market, strategic partners and taking a hard look at my numbers and what work would be necessary to grow” and “many of my competitors were bought out and closed their doors.  I focused on my core business.”

Networking continued to be a strong business builder as represented by comments such as: “my business depends a lot on referrals and networking” and “my business is flourishing today as a result of my networking efforts both via the internet and face to face.”  Once respondent claimed that “my business has tripled its income over the past year due largely to my committed involvement to networking.”

Is Your Company Hiring

The one thing that came up by many people who said they were still struggling were complaints about government regulation which have been a constant since the BNI Business Index was first released in 2010.  Issues like the impact of health care reform, government regulation of businesses, and legislative incompetence showed up throughout the survey this year and every previous year.

I’d love to hear your feedback on the two questions posed in the graphs included in this blog post (How is business for you today compared to this time last year? ; Is your company hiring or planning on hiring people over the next few months?)–please share your answers in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Welcome to International Networking Week®!

This week marks the 8th annual celebration of International Networking Week® which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe.  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach.  If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb 3-7).

CLICK HERE to view a short video about International Networking Week 2014.  Please feel free to share the video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Please share your plans in the comment forum below–thanks!

4 Steps to Building an Effective Networking Program

It’s often been said that “starting is the hardest part” of a project. Well, building your business through networking and word-of-mouth marketing is no exception.

Here are four things you can do to get your networking program off to a strong start:

1. Don’t be a cave dweller: Get out and meet people!

2. Know how to ask for the referral. Learn and develop specific techniques that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want.

3. Consciously select at least three business or networking groups to join in the next three months (chambers of commerce, community service groups, trade associations, strong contact networks such as BNI, etc.).

4. Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way (If you’re a music store owner, for example, you might send music tickets to people who refer business to you).

The bottom line is this: Get out there and make diverse contacts, be specific in your approach, and help others in creative and enthusiastic ways so they’ll want to refer you business!

 What are some specific ways that you approach networking? . . . What tactics do you have for making diverse contacts and helping others creatively and enthusiastically?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’ll send a free, surprise gift to the first ten people who respond to these questions in the comment forum below.  In order to ensure that you receive your gift, be sure to e-mail larry@bni.com with the subject line “blog comment” and your full contact information [mailing address and phone number (your phone number is required by the shipping company in case they need to contact you in order to deliver your package)]–I assure you that your contact information will not be shared or used for any other purpose than to ship your gift to you. Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

 

How to Get Remembered & Get More Referrals

Last week I posted a video blog on the tremendous importance of following up with the contacts you make when networking in order to be successful and get results.  In today’s video, I take the discussion on follow up a step further . . .

The fact is, how you choose to follow up can really make a significant difference in getting people to remember you–if you get a little creative, you can really put yourself in a prime position for maximum referral generation.  In this video, I share a story about a young networker who got great results by going above and beyond to follow up in a really unique way with a networking group he was hoping to gain membership into, and I also offer a tip on how to follow through in order to stay top of mind so others will constantly be thinking of how they might be able to generate referrals for you.

If you have a story about a unique way you’ve followed up with someone, or a standout way you’ve seen others use to follow up, I’d love for you to submit your story at www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and also share it in the comment forum below.  When you submit your story via SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com, it will be considered for inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield and Gautam Ganglani.  Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to reading your stories!

 

Attitude Is a Choice and Choosing Wisely Is a Necessity

Years ago I wrote a blog on the importance of attitude in networking and recently I’ve had several situations arise which have reminded me yet again that attitude shapes the outcome of everyday dealings in huge ways so I’d like to revisit the idea in today’s blog post . 

Some days my schedule involves marathon radio interviews beginning at 4 a.m. and, as you can imagine, getting up at an hour when roosters haven’t even begun to think about warming up their vocal chords is not the most enticing of tasks. However, as the Founder & Chairman of BNI®, the world’s largest business networking organization, I agree to do these interviews at such an outrageous hour because it is my responsibility to do whatever needs to be done to network for the organization.

Now, can you imagine what would happen if  I answered the interviewer’€™s first question–which is always “How are you doing today, Dr. Misner?”–€”by grumbling about how I had stubbed my toe and how I wished I was back in my warm bed?  Well, what would happen is that people would be immediately turned off by my negative attitude and nobody would listen to me.

This brings me to my point that in order to be a master networker, you must always maintain a positive attitude no matter what.  With over two decades of professional networking experience, one thing I’ve learned is how important it is to have a positive attitude in order to successfully network.  And if I’€™m going to go around telling other people how to discipline and train themselves to network effectively, then I darn well better be walking the walk (or at least limping along, stubbed toe and all) and maintaining the positive attitude of a master networker.

Now that I’ve shared the second most important trait of a master networker, I figure might as well give you the other nine.  Here they are, ranked in order of their perceived importance to networking:

 

1. Follows up on referrals
2. Positive attitude
3. Enthusiastic/motivated
4. Trustworthy
5. Good listening skills
6. Networks always
7. Thanks people
8. Enjoys helping
9. Sincere
10. Works their network. 

Starting this week, try making a conscious effort to be aware of your attitude at all times and if it could stand some improvement think about three simple things you could do to change your attitude for the better on a daily basis.  If you’ve already got a great handle on maintaining a positive attitude, take this week to focus on one or more of the other nine traits of a master networker and think of three ways you can build your effectiveness in these areas.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you might do to implement the ideas in this blog so please share your comments in the forum below. Thanks!

Making Business Personal Is Sometimes a Very Good Thing

In this short video, business networking expert Charlie Lawson demonstrates how powerful storytelling can be in relation to networking for your business and he does it by none other than . . . you guessed it . . . telling a story.

The fact is, you can tell someone what you do for a living all day long but chances are, that’s not going to make you stand out.  You need to start relaying true stories about how your products and services have had a significantly positive impact on the way your customers feel and the quality of their lives.

As Charlie says, “The story is what gets us and the more we make our stories about what we do in business personal, the more results we’re going to have.”

Do you have a powerful, standout story about how your products or services have impacted your customers?  If so, I’d really love to hear it–please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Crucial Conversations

We’ve all heard the phrase “It’s not so much about what you say, it’s more how you say it that really matters” and, let me tell you, I learned the hard way how true that actually is.  Conversations can be tricky–especially when one or more of the people involved are upset.

 

Back in the 1980s when I first started BNI®, there were only a handful of chapters in existence, as the organization was in its very beginning stages, and it was still small enough to where I was able to make personal visits to chapter meetings.  One day, the chapter president of a local Southern California BNI chapter called me up and asked me if I would come sit in on their next meeting and offer some insight into how they could improve because they were having some challenges keeping their networking group running smoothly and effectively.

I was more than happy to help out however I could so I went to their next meeting, sat back and observed, and then when the chapter president called me up to the front of the room and asked me to offer my feedback, I stood up and began to go over my list of suggestions and changes they should make in order to improve their effectiveness.  All of a sudden, one of the chapter members raised her hand and said, “Excuse me but who in the heck do you think you are, sashaying in here (I didn’t know that I “sashay”)  and telling us everything you think we’re doing wrong?!–You don’t know anything about us!”

How did I respond?  I didn’t respond . . . I reacted.  I went with my gut reflex which was to defend myself, saying that I was the founder of the organization and I tried in vain to argue that my points were valid and that they needed to listen to what I had to say if they wanted to improve.  The way I handled it was completely ineffective because, in a heated situation where somebody was obviously very upset and already convinced I was the enemy, I had no strategy for guiding the conversation in a positive, solutions-focused direction and trying to argue and stick to my guns only made things worse.

That day, on my commute back home from the meeting, I spent the first twenty minutes fuming about how rude the woman was to me in spite of the fact that I had gotten up early to drive out to their chapter meeting and taken time out of my day to go above and beyond to help them.  In the privacy of my own car, with my blood boiling, I drove through traffic flaring my nostrils, vehemently muttering several choice words (which I will not detail here) while I verbally bashed them for being so ungrateful (suffice it to say, I definitely would have been in trouble if there were anyone else in the car to hear me!).

But then I started to calm down and think about how I might have handled the situation differently and it was during that same lone car ride that I came up with BNI’s corporate policy (which is used to this day) on customer support and handling customer complaints.  Below are a few select bullet points from the policy:

  • Remember–people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care
  • Listen and let them talk.  Then . . . listen, listen, listen.
  • Ask questions.  Then . . . listen!
  • Acknowledge the information
  • Understand their complaint and ask how you can help
  • Follow up
  • Thank them
  • Remember–diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.  Be diplomatic!

Some years later, I came across Crucial Conversations, a book which teaches people how to prepare for high-stakes situations, transform anger and hurt feelings into powerful dialogue, create situations where it is safe to talk about almost anything, and to be persuasive not abrasive.

Not only are some of the tactics and strategies right in line with what I outlined for BNI’s policy on dealing with tense situations, but it contains a slew of additional tactics that are immensely helpful for ensuring that whatever it is you are trying to say in any given situation is presented in the best possible way (i.e., “how you say it”) in order to achieve the best possible results for everyone involved.

If you really think about it, all conversations are crucial on some level because once you say something you can’t take it back and saying the wrong thing can have sometimes have tremendously negative repercussions.  Whether you are conversing with your fellow networkers, your business associates, or with those close to you who you love and care about, it’s always best to know what you want to say and how you want to say it (and to have a plan to diffuse things if the conversation gets heated) before anything comes out of your mouth . . . take it from someone who definitely learned this the hard way. 😉

To learn more about Crucial Conversations, please CLICK HERE or visit: http://www.vitalsmarts.com/crucialconversations/.

 

‘Why People Resist Networking’ Series: Part III–Impatience Resulting in Early Failure


In this third installment of the “Why People Resist Networking” Video Series, I discuss another popular theme surrounding why people tend to resist networking – impatience.  If new networkers don’t see immediate payoff from their efforts, they become impatient, inevitably resulting in failure early on in the networking process.

Quite often, people simply don’t understand the value of taking time to build fruitful relationships and, like it or not, fruitful relationships are the cornerstone of effective networking.

In this short video, I show a Power Point slide which offers eye-opening proof of the payoff that comes from being patient and consistently putting in the necessary time each week to diligently and strategically build networking relationships. 

I highly encourage you to watch the video to find out why you owe it to yourself (not to mention the business you’ve put so much hard work into) to adopt a systematic and patient approach to networking.  Remember, when you approach networking like a long distance marathon runner, you will reap sweet rewards; if you approach it like a sprinter, simply trying to reach the end as quickly as possible, chances are you’ll end up breaking your ankle (so to speak) and you will have failed before you ever have a chance to even reach the finish line–needless to say, there’s no prize in that.

After watching the video, I’d love for you to leave your feedback, thoughts, and/or comments in the comment forum below. I would particularly like to hear your networking success stories (e.g., connections you never thought you’d be able to make yet achieved through your diligent networking efforts, business growth statistics attesting to the positive impact your networking efforts have made on your business, etc.). Thanks!

Networking in Rural Areas–Does It Produce Results?

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was in Sweden on business and my wife Beth and I had the truly unique and memorable experience of staying at the Ice Hotel®.  The owner of hotel happens to be a member of BNI®, the global networking organization I started back in 1985, and during my time there I had the opportunity to not only spend time with some of the members of the nearby BNI chapters,  but also to record this short video with Gunnar Selheden (National Director for BNI Scandinavia).

In this video, Gunnar and I discuss networking in rural areas and small towns in relation to the fact that the success of your business has much less to do with the size of the city in which your business is located and much more to do with the quality of the relationships you develop throughout your networking efforts.  Being that the Ice Hotel is located in Jukkasjärvi, a tiny little town 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, it was a very fitting place to film a video on this topic.

Are you a member of a networking group in a rural area or a small town?  If so, what has your experience been as far as getting results from your efforts within that group?  Do you find that your participation in the group has had a significant impact on the success of your business or not?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you. Thanks!

 

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