Building Authentic Business Relationship

Networking is About Stamina, Not Speedstring(38) "Networking is About Stamina, Not Speed"

In the world of professional relationships and business growth, networking plays a pivotal role. As the founder of BNI, an organization built on the foundation of referrals and networking, I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power it holds. So, let’s take a look at what this marathon should look like – with a little humor added in.

Building Authentic Relationships:
It’s Not Like Speed Dating!

Networking is about building authentic relationships, not just accumulating contacts. It’s not a speed dating event where you collect as many business cards as possible and hope for the best. Nope, that won’t cut it. It’s essential to invest time and effort in getting to know others on a deeper level. Remember, it’s not about exchanging pleasantries and pretending to be interested while secretly plotting to make a sale. Building rapport, trust, and a genuine connection requires a commitment to building long-term relationships. Treat it like a slow-cooked meal; let the flavors develop over time!

Establishing Credibility and Trust:
Actions Speak Louder Than Words, and Bad Puns

A successful networker understands the significance of establishing credibility and trust within the business community. And what better way to establish credibility than through consistent effort and delivering on your promises? Show up, be reliable, and provide value to others. But wait, there’s more! How about sprinkling in some humor to lighten the mood? Just make sure your networking humor doesn’t fall flat like a pancake. Remember, a good joke can break the ice, but a bad joke might just make people feel as cold as an iceberg!

Imagine that you’re at a networking event, and you strike up a conversation with a potential client. You are both discussing your businesses when you drop a perfectly timed pun. They chuckle, and suddenly the tension eases. You’ve established a connection beyond the ordinary small talk. So go ahead, let your sense of humor shine through. Just be careful not to overdo it.

The Power of Referrals:
Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Referrals are the lifeblood of successful networking. However, they’re not something that magically appears with the snap of your fingers. Oh no, referrals are more like that delicious meal you wait hours for at a fantastic restaurant. They take time to cook. As connections grow stronger and trust deepens, individuals become more willing to recommend your services or products. So, don’t rush it. Patience is key, just like waiting for that dessert you’ve been eyeing on the menu. Trust me, the referral soufflé will rise beautifully when the time is right!

Now, let’s imagine a scenario. You meet someone at a networking event who expresses interest in your business. Instead of bombarding them with sales pitches, take a different approach. Build a genuine connection, show interest in their business, and find ways to support them. Remember, networking is a two-way street. If you provide value and support to others, they’ll be more inclined to refer you to potential clients or partners. And when those referrals come flowing in, it’ll feel like winning a delicious food-eating competition—except without the stomach ache and gained weight!

The Depth of Connection:
Skip the Small Talk and Embrace the Quirkiness

While a sprint may be a quick burst of energy, networking thrives on the depth of connections you develop. It’s not about how many people you can engage within a short period, but rather the quality and depth of those relationships. So, minimize the small talk and embrace the quirkiness! Find common interests, share your passions, and let your authentic self shine when you network with people. After all, it’s the quirks and unique qualities that make us memorable. Just be careful not to overshare; we’re aiming for memorable, not creepy!

Imagine attending a networking event where everyone is wearing the same professional mask. The conversations revolve around the weather, the latest industry trends, and the most boring aspects of business. Sounds dreadful, right? Break free from the mundane! Instead of blending in, embrace your quirkiness. Talk about your love for comic books, your passion for knitting tiny hats for your pet turtle, or your secret talent for juggling oranges (for me, it’s catching and releasing venomous snakes back into the wild – that’s always a conversation starter). Be memorable, be authentic, and watch as those connections deepen like a well-developed plotline in a gripping novel.

Patience and Long-Term Vision:
Marathon Training with Snacks and Dance Breaks

Networking is a journey that requires patience and a long-term vision. It’s like training for a marathon, but with more snacks and dance breaks. Sure, there will be times when progress seems slow, and the finish line feels distant. That’s when you break out the snacks and groove to your favorite tunes. Keep that networking stamina high! Embrace the ups and downs, celebrate the small victories, and keep your eye on the prize. Remember, it’s not just about reaching the finish line; it’s about enjoying the process and the connections you make along the way.

Let’s envision a networking event as a vibrant dance floor. You’re wearing your networking shoes, grooving to the beat, and mingling with other professionals. You may stumble a few times, but you pick yourself up and keep going. As you dance, you share stories, exchange ideas, and forge connections. And when the DJ plays your favorite song, you let loose and celebrate the joy of networking. So, don’t forget to pack your favorite snacks, keep those dance moves handy, and embrace the marathon with a smile on your face.

Networking truly is a marathon, not a sprint. It involves building authentic relationships, establishing credibility and trust, earning referrals, fostering deep connections, and embracing a long-term vision. By understanding and embracing the principles of networking, individuals can unlock its true power in creating opportunities, fostering collaborations, and achieving professional success.

So, lace up those networking shoes, grab a handful of networking-themed snacks, and let’s embark on this marathon together. Embrace the journey, cultivate authentic relationships with a sprinkle of humor, and forge lasting connections that will propel us forward on our path to success. And don’t forget to laugh along the way because, let’s face it, networking can be serious business, but a little humor makes the journey all the more enjoyable!

helping in business networking

When Networking, Ask “How Can I Help?”string(42) "When Networking, Ask “How Can I Help?”"

Wherever you live in the world, Givers Gain® is the Number 1 rule to remember when networking. Always be thinking, “How can I help this person?” 

After all, business networking is about building relationships, and helping others is absolutely the best way to begin the relationship-building process.

Where to Begin?

In most social interactions, the common question is usually, “How’s everything going?” The typical response is often something like, “Great, things couldn’t be better.” This standard answer is often given as a gesture of courtesy because most people are aware that sharing their troubles might not be suitable for casual conversations. However, this automatic response seldom reveals the entire picture.

In reality, there is always room for improvement, and there are many ways that you can extend a helping hand. However, most individuals are reluctant to delve into specifics or disclose their challenges, particularly at social or networking events. To unveil genuine insights, avoid generalities like, “How are things?” Instead, ask more specific questions that dig a bit deeper.

For instance, if someone tells you things are going great, perhaps sharing that their business is thriving and surpassing their expectations, you can ask, “Are you successfully meeting all of your goals?” Even if the response is affirmative, this is still a big opportunity to help.

Consider this: It’s a business that is expanding faster than the owner had projected.
What potential support might it need?

By going beyond surface-level exchanges and genuinely understanding someone’s unique needs, you gain the ability to identify introductions that could prove beneficial for them and their situation. However, you can only figure out what introductions to make after getting past the generalities and finding out their specific needs.

Ways to Help Others

While many people think of networking solely as a channel for acquiring clients, embracing the Givers Gain mindset redefines it as a powerful tool for establishing relationships. The act of extending help introduces an avenue for building meaningful connections. Your assistance can come in a variety of ways. Here are some examples:
Making Introductions
Linking someone to individuals within your network can lead to profound outcomes. These connections can foster mutual appreciation and open doors for potential collaborations.

Sharing Knowledge
Providing industry insights, articles relevant to their business, or valuable resources underscores your willingness to contribute to someone else’s growth. Perhaps you can share something from your profession, such as an upcoming change in procedures that will affect them.

Skill Exchange
Sharing your areas of expertise or skills can be an impactful contribution to the success of others. Often, what may seem like a small thing to give can be of huge significance to the receiver.

Problem Solving
Helping someone in the resolution of business challenges they are experiencing demonstrates your ability to navigate complex issues. This can include giving tips on how to initiate the changes they will need to make to resolve the situation.

Mentorship
Offering guidance and mentorship can be invaluable to someone’s personal and professional development, including your own. I have found that every time I was a mentor to someone, it was also a learning experience for me, and I realized that I was improving myself while helping them.

Helping Builds Trust

When you embrace the Givers Gain philosophy, networking can go beyond transactional exchanges that are focused solely on getting a new customer. Instead, it becomes a way to build authentic and meaningful business relationships.

When you help someone in any way that serves their needs, you will begin a professional relationship with them, and creating a relationship helps build trust. Trust is the cornerstone of effective networking. When you practice Givers Gain often enough, you will be on the road to a powerful personal network predicated on trust that is built through helping someone else.

By genuinely aiming to assist others, you solidify a reputation as a valuable resource and a trusted collaborator. This embodies the true essence of business networking: fostering connections that enrich the lives of all parties involved.

The Number 1 networking rule, maintaining an attitude of, “How can I help this person?”, is the most effective way to build mutually beneficial relationships. Simply put, helping equals opportunity.

How to avoid assumptions in business networking

Avoid Assumptionsstring(17) "Avoid Assumptions"

When it comes to business networking, assuming that others know everything about your business can be a costly mistake. A florist once made this error, assuming that everyone in a networking group was familiar with the extent of his services. I heard him tell the members of the group, “I’m not sure what else to say. You all know what a florist does, right?”  Wrong!  His presumption was not only completely wrong, he also missed a valuable opportunity to educate potential customers and referral partners about his full range of offerings.

After the meeting, I asked him if he was an FTD florist, and then asked him several other questions:

  • Did he offer seasonal specials for holidays?  If so, which ones?
  • Did he handle emergency orders?
  • Did he have experience with weddings?
  • Could I set up a billing arrangement with his company?
  • Could I order online?
  • Do certain colors of roses signify certain things?
  • Could he give me tips to keep flowers alive longer?

I told him there were hundreds of things I didn’t know about his business, and other people surely felt the same way. They need to know what he offers, who he serves, how he does it, and why he is the best choice.

The florist’s case serves as a lesson for all entrepreneurs: never assume that people know everything about your business. Even in networking circles, where professionals come together on a regular basis to connect and exchange information, there is still a need to educate others about your services, products, and the solutions you can provide.

The Power of Educating Others

To effectively engage in your networking group and capitalize on the referral opportunities, consider these steps:

Prepare a List of Questions
Start by creating a list of questions that potential clients might have about your business. These questions can encompass the range of services you offer, pricing details, special promotions, customer policies, and anything else relevant to your industry.

Address One Question Per Meeting
At each networking event, focus on addressing one question from your list when you are speaking to the group. Present concise and informative answers that showcase the depth and breadth of your business. This approach educates others about your offerings and is engaging and memorable.

Showcase Your Expertise
In networking, people seek expertise and trustworthiness in potential business partners. By taking the time to educate others about your business, you establish yourself as an authority in your field. This credibility enhances the possibility of gaining referrals and attracting new customers.

Share Unique Selling Points
Educating others about your business allows you to highlight your unique selling points. Use networking opportunities to showcase what sets you apart from competitors and why potential clients should choose your products or services.

Emphasize Customer Benefits
As share information by answering questions from your list, always emphasize the benefits your customers can expect from working with you. Highlight the value you bring and how you address the specific needs of your target market.

Be Open to Learning
Networking is a two-way street. While educating others about your business, be open to learning about theirs. Understanding their needs and interests better allows you to tailor your responses more effectively and identify potential collaboration opportunities.

Follow Up with Interested Contacts
After networking events, follow up with individuals who expressed interest in your services, and follow up with the referrals you receive, preferably within 24 hours. You can answer any questions they may have and continue educating them about your business with timely and personalized communication.

Bonus tip
If you have ten questions from your original list, and you develop ten weekly presentations from those questions, plan to reuse them again at future networking meetings. People need to hear your information more than once, and there will be new people in the room who know nothing about what you do.

Educate Others

Networking provides a platform to educate others about your business, ensuring that potential customers have a comprehensive understanding of your offerings. By avoiding assumptions and proactively sharing valuable information, you can position yourself as a trusted authority and gain a competitive edge in the market. Embrace networking as an opportunity to educate, connect, and build lasting business relationships that pave the way for success.

Remember the florist from above? He knew his business and assumed that everyone else knew it as well. Avoid making that same assumption in YOUR networking group. Everyone has something they can say that will educate people about the products and services their business has to offer. Avoid assumptions and don’t pass up a chance to teach people more about what you do!

 

 

 

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Knowledge Networking and Referral Networking – Using Both for Business Growthstring(83) "Knowledge Networking and Referral Networking – Using Both for Business Growth"

In today’s interconnected business world, networking plays a pivotal role in achieving success. There are two primary types of formal networking groups that most people are involved in: Knowledge Networking and Referral Networking. They each offer distinct benefits which I’ll share in this blog.

Knowledge Networking

Knowledge Networking is also known as intraprofessional networking. It emphasizes self-help, information exchange, and resource sharing among professionals. It fosters improved productivity and work-life harmony. This networking style is influenced by the megatrend of information exchange impacting our society.

Knowledge networks have been around longer than almost any other kind of group – from the medieval guilds, to crafts associations, to today’s professional groups and industry associations. Some of these groups limit membership to their own industry. However, quite a few groups that represent industries other than your own will allow you to join as an associate member of their organization. This can connect you with a concentrated target market, including many top-quality contacts.

Referral Networking

Referral Networking is interprofessional networking; it involves professionals from various occupations collaborating to increase each other’s business. In fact, the primary purpose of most interprofessional networking groups is to increase one another’s business through referrals.

In strong interprofessional networking, participants typically get the majority of their business, or their best business, through referrals. Organizations such as Chambers of Commerce and Industry, JCI (formerly known as Jaycees), and BNI are typical groups in this category. Different groups offer different strengths and weaknesses in helping their members generate word-of-mouth business. It is important to look closely at the makeup and structure of each of the various organizations that you might join before selecting those that best fit your needs.

If your past experience with business organizations wasn’t as successful as you wanted, don’t let that get in the way of doing what needs to be done to build your business through word-of-mouth now. The best way to begin the process of building a referral-based business is in a group or groups of other business professionals.  The only alternative is to meet with one person at a time, which inevitably means you’re going to be working harder, not smarter.
To effectively build a referral-based business through networking, here are four strategies to consider:

1. Diversify Your Networking Involvement

Join multiple types of networking groups to diversify your word-of-mouth activities. Engaging with various professionals widens your reach and exposure to potential clients and referral partners.

2. Embrace the Hub Firm Approach

Develop your company into a Hub Firm, offering coordination and connection with effective services that businesses rely on. Positioning yourself between other people’s networks allows you to become a central resource for other professionals and strengthens your position and referral potential.

3. Engage with Professional Organizations

Don’t be a cave dweller; avoid being isolated by actively participating in professional organizations that are tailored to networking purposes.  These groups provide opportunities to meet and build relationships with like-minded business professionals.
You won’t get results if you are a member who doesn’t attend meetings or interact with fellow members.

4. Cultivate Trust and Connection

Building a referral-based business hinges on trust and connection. Invest time to cultivate meaningful relationships with friends, associates, customers and clients, peers, and family members. The only people who are going to consistently make referrals for you are the ones who know and trust you. Remember, strangers are not going to consistently give and refer business to you.

If you want to grow your business, you need to start spending time with the right people in structured professional environments. In a competitive business landscape, referral networking remains a powerful tool for success. Implementing these strategies can help your business grow.  

What is your experience in Referral Networking and/or Knowledge Networking?

 

 

 

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Six Ways to Use Networking to Find a Jobstring(40) "Six Ways to Use Networking to Find a Job"

As job markets continue to evolve, networking remains a powerful tool for finding employment opportunities. More than 80% of all jobs are found through networking according to a LinkedIn study. So, I thought I would share some ideas about how both recent graduates and seasoned professionals can find a new position.
Here are six networking steps that can help someone who is looking for a job.

1.Cultivate a Confident Mindset

Desperation is not referable. Approach networking with confidence, rather than desperation. You will be depending on your network to vouch for you and speak highly of you to their hiring manager and their contacts, so confidently showcase your skills and abilities.

2.Curate Your Online Presence

Ensure that all of your social media accounts project a professional image. Potential employers often review online profiles, so make sure yours reflects positively on you; you don’t want to make your network look bad if they recommend you.
I once checked out the Facebook page of someone I was considering hiring. OMG! There were excessive swearwords in most of his posts, along with many inappropriate comments and tirades about people. He was not the kind of influence I wanted in my office.

3.Leverage Existing Relationships

Start by connecting with friends, family and business contacts, both in person and on platforms like LinkedIn. Communicate your job search goals, telling them exactly what kind of position you’re looking for. Ask them to keep an eye out for suitable openings.

4.Tap Into Diverse Contacts

Expand your network beyond your immediate circles and connections. Reach out to neighbors, professional organizations, past clients, and community groups for additional contacts. Sometimes, even weak ties can lead to valuable job referrals.

5.Categorize Your Contacts

Assess the nature of your relationships – active, passive, or dormant, and then tailor your approach accordingly. This is my strategy to approach each of them.
Active – pick up the phone and ask for assistance. You have a relationship with them; most likely, they will love to help you.
Passive – set an appointment to reconnect with them, preferably in person. Find out about them and how they’re doing and let them know you’re looking for something.
Dormant – reconnect through social media or email. Just talk. Don’t ask for anything – yet. Stay in touch and gradually build the relationship before you ask.

6.Network In-Person

Engage in face-to-face networking by visiting companies in the industry you are interested in. Check in with the front desk, drop off your resume, and ask to meet with the HR director. Even better, find out if someone in your network can connect you to a current employee in that company.

Once you get a referral or a great connection, do these two things.

Research the Prospective Employer

Prepare thoroughly before interviews. Learn about the company’s history, their corporate culture and values, and any recent news or latest press releases – whatever you can find. Checking out their website is only the start. Research the organization to get more information. If possible, research the interviewers to gain insights into their professional backgrounds.

I landed one of the biggest jobs of my career (before starting BNI and long before Google) because I researched the company and knew so much about the organization and the professional background of the person interviewing me that it blew him away and he hired me.

Offer a “Working Interview”

Suggest a “working interview” to showcase your talents and work ethic. It is a great way for a company to take your experience for a “test drive.” It will give you an opportunity to show them what you’re made of. This approach allows employers to assess your suitability for the role in a practical manner. If all goes well, ask them to consider you for the position. A successful “working interview” can lead to immediate job offers.

I have been recommending this to job-seekers for many years. I once suggested this idea to my eldest daughter. She tried it out with a company she wanted to work for, and they took her up on the “working interview” offer. She did such a great job, they hired her the next day!

Networking remains an indispensable approach for job seekers across all career states. By following these steps and integrating the strategies, you can navigate the competitive job market with greater confidence and increased chances of success. Share this with someone you know who is looking for employment.

Has networking helped you find a job? I’d love to hear your experience; share in the comments below.

 

 

 

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“It’s work” to show up but “it works” to show up!string(79) "“It’s work” to show up but “it works” to show up!"

In a fast-paced and interconnected world, success often depends on one’s ability to show up consistently and make a meaningful impact. While the phrase “It’s work” implies that being present requires effort and dedication, “It works” signifies the effectiveness and results of consistent effort. This blog explores the significance of both expressions and the transformative power they hold in shaping personal growth, professional success, and societal progress.

“It’s work” – The Importance of Showing Up:

The phrase “It’s work” embodies the notion that showing up and being present requires commitment and effort. This can be applied to various aspects of life, including relationships, networking, education, business, and career. To achieve success or make a difference, individuals must overcome obstacles, manage time, and remain dedicated to their goals. The act of showing up signifies reliability, responsibility, and accountability, traits that are highly valued in both personal and professional spheres.

Personal Growth: Whether it’s pursuing a passion, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, or improving oneself, consistency in showing up is vital for personal growth. By consistently engaging in self-improvement activities, individuals can foster resilience, discipline, and self-confidence.

Academic Pursuits: Students who regularly attend classes, complete assignments, and participate in discussions demonstrate a commitment to their education. Regular attendance not only leads to better academic performance but also prepares students for future responsibilities in their chosen careers.

Professional Life: In the workplace, people who consistently show up on time, meet deadlines, and contribute to team efforts are more likely to be recognized and rewarded. Reliability and consistency build trust among associates, colleagues, and supervisors, leading to greater opportunities for business development.

“It works” – The Power of Consistent Effort:

While showing up is essential, it is equally crucial for those efforts to yield tangible results. “It works” celebrates the positive outcomes of consistent and diligent work, highlighting the effectiveness of sustained effort and perseverance. It’s one of the reasons I set BNI up as a weekly meeting.

Achieving Goals: Success rarely comes overnight.  I have often said that “I am a 20-year, overnight success!” Instead of overnight success, achieving one’s goals often results from ongoing effort and determination. “It works” acknowledges the progress made through continuous dedication and reinforces the idea that sustained hard work can lead to the realization of dreams and goals.

Innovation and Progress: Significant breakthroughs and advancements are often the results of tireless work and dedication from researchers, inventors, and entrepreneurs. The phrase “It works” celebrates these achievements and inspires further innovation to drive societal progress.

Social Impact: Many societal changes are brought about by the collective efforts of individuals who tirelessly work towards a common goal. From social justice movements to environmental activism, consistent dedication to a cause can create meaningful change and inspire others to join the movement.

The expressions “It’s work” and “It works” embody complementary aspects of success and achievement. “It’s work” emphasizes the importance of showing up consistently and committing to personal growth and professional development. On the other hand, “It works” celebrates the power of consistent effort and highlights the transformative impact that dedicated individuals can have on their lives and the world around them.

To truly succeed and make a difference, one must embrace both sides of this idea. By recognizing the value of showing up consistently and acknowledging the fruits of labor, individuals can cultivate a mindset that fuels personal growth, empowers professional success, and drives positive societal change. So, let us remember that while “It’s work” to show up, it is the assertion that “It works” which propels us forward in our pursuit of excellence and significance.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. You are welcome to share in the comments below.

Avoid Premature Solicitationstring(28) "Avoid Premature Solicitation"

Have you ever been solicited for a referral or for business by someone you didn’t even know? Asking for a referral before there is a business relationship is premature.
Years ago, I heard a BNI member from the U.S. call this “Premature Solicitation,” and I completely agreed. When you give a referral, you give away a little bit of your reputation. You certainly don’t want to put your own reputation on the line for a stranger.

I’ve been a victim of “premature solicitation” many times. One time, I was speaking at a business networking event, and before my presentation, someone came up to me and actually said, “Hi, it is a real pleasure to meet you. I understand you know Richard Branson. I offer specialized marketing services and I am sure his Virgin Enterprises could benefit from what I provide. Could you please introduce me to him so that I can show him how this would assist his companies?”

So… this is what I was thinking:
Are you completely insane?  I’m going to introduce you, someone I don’t know and don’t  have any relationship with, to Sir Richard, whom I’ve only met a few times (here is the story of the first meeting), so that you can proceed to attempt to sell him a product or service that I don’t know anything about and haven’t used myself? Yeah, right. That’s NEVER going to happen!

However, I am pleased to report, that with much effort, I was able to keep that little monologue inside my own head, opting instead for a much more subtle response.

I replied… Hi, I’m Ivan, I’m sorry–I don’t think we’ve met before. What was your name again? My response surprised the man enough to make him realize that his “solicitation” might have been a bit “premature.” I explained to him that I regularly refer people to my contacts, but only after I’ve established a long-term strong relationship with the service provider first. He said thanks and moved on to his next victim. His approach was not networking, it was direct selling (and I would argue it was bad direct selling).

By the way, you are welcome to use my response if it happens to you, “Hi, I’m sorry – I don’t think we’ve met before. What was your name again?”

The way I look at it is that if it is somebody you know and they know you, and you have a relationship built with trust, and you’ve done business with them, I’m happy to put people together. That’s what my business is all about. That’s what much of my professional life has been about – connecting people I know and trust with someone who needs a product or service.

What I’m not okay with is connecting people I don’t know or trust; I’ve never used their product, I’ve never used their service, and I’m being asked to connect them with other people who I do know well. As I said above, when you give a referral, you give a little bit of your reputation away. If you give a good referral, it enhances your reputation. If you give a bad referral, it hurts your reputation, so you really don’t want to give those kinds of referrals away.

Remember, networking is not about hunting. It is about farming. It’s about cultivating relationships with other business professionals. Avoid “premature solicitation.” You’ll be a better networker if you remember that.

Have you experienced this, too? I invite you to share your story in the comment section below.

 

 

 

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Today Is the Tomorrow You Were Worried About Yesterdaystring(54) "Today Is the Tomorrow You Were Worried About Yesterday"

As an entrepreneur, I have seen my fair share of people who are constantly worried about the future. They spend so much time worrying about tomorrow that they forget to live in the present. They worry about what they will do if they lose their job, how they will pay their bills if their business fails, or how they will cope if their relationships break down. These worries can consume a person, causing stress, anxiety, and even depression.

But the truth is, tomorrow is not something we can control. It is a mystery waiting to unfold. No matter how much we worry about it, we cannot predict what will happen. All we can do is prepare ourselves for whatever comes our way.

That is why I love the phrase, “Today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday.” It reminds us that yesterday’s worries are gone, and tomorrow’s worries are not yet here. We have only the present moment to live in, and we should make the most of it.

Living In the Present

Living in the present can be challenging, especially in today’s fast-paced world. We are bombarded with news and information from all sides, and it can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind. But it is essential to take a step back, take a deep breath, and remind ourselves that we are here, now, and we have the power to create our own reality in this moment.

Living in the present means being fully mindful in the moment. It means enjoying the simple things in life, like a beautiful sunset or a warm cup of tea. It means spending quality time with loved ones, focusing on their presence, and not worrying about what tomorrow may bring. It means taking care of ourselves, both physically and mentally, and not letting our worries consume us.

But living in the present does not mean ignoring the future. It means taking steps to prepare for it, without letting it overwhelm or immobilize us. We should be setting goals, creating plans, and taking action to achieve them. But we should not be so focused on the future that we forget to live in the present.

For me, networking is a perfect example of how living in the present can lead to future success. When we attend networking events, we are focused on meeting new people, building relationships, and finding opportunities. We are not worried about what may or may not happen in the future; we are living in the moment and making the most of every opportunity.

At the same time, networking is also about preparing for the future. We are building a network of contacts that we can turn to when we need help, whether that is finding a new job or starting a new business. We are creating a safety net that can help us weather the storms throughout our life.

Gratitude

Living in the present also means being grateful for what we have. It means focusing on the positive aspects of our lives, rather than dwelling on the negative. It means being thankful for the people in our lives, the opportunities we have, and the simple pleasures that make life worth living.

Gratitude is a powerful tool that can help us live in the present and prepare for the future. When we are grateful for what we have, we are more likely to attract positive things into our lives. We are more optimistic, more resilient, and more open to new opportunities.

So, if you find yourself worrying about the future, remember that today is the tomorrow you were so worried about yesterday. Take a step back, take a deep breath, and focus on the present moment. Enjoy the simple things in life, spend time with your loved ones, and take care of yourself. Set goals, create plans, and take action, but do not let the future consume you. And be grateful for what you have, for it is the foundation upon which you will build your future.

The phrase is a reminder that the future is not set in stone, and that we have the power to create our own reality. It is a call to action to live in the present, to appreciate what we have, and to prepare for what may come.

As we navigate the uncertainties of life, let us remember that worry does not serve us. It is a drain on our energy, our focus, and our happiness. Instead, let us focus on the present, taking steps to create a better future while enjoying the present moment.

Whether in our personal lives or our professional endeavors, let us embrace the power of the present. Let us cultivate gratitude, build strong relationships, and take action toward our goals. For today is the tomorrow we were so worried about yesterday, and it is up to us to make the most of it.

How to Network Your Startup Businessstring(36) "How to Network Your Startup Business"

Working in a startup company is completely different than working in an established company. Understandably, it certainly comes with its own unique set of challenges. Founders and employees of a startup need to be conscious of these different challenges. They also need to recognize there are also keys to business success that become even more important when you work with a startup. Business networking for your company is one of those keys.

Here are three ways to effectively network your startup.

1.Host Networking Events

Of course you need to attend business networking events, and… you should also host them. When you attend a business networking event, you will stick in the minds of those who were also in attendance. Ideally, you will make a positive impression on everyone you connect with.

However, when you host an event, the people at the event with whom you connect will remember you, AND so will all the people you invited that were unable to attend. While their impression of you won’t be as developed as those who attended, invitees who couldn’t make it will remember that they were invited, and it will be easier to hit the ground running with them when you finally do make that connection.

2.Follow-up is Vital

A huge part of successful networking is the follow-up after meeting a new contact. You want to let those people you connect with know their time is appreciated and that you want to continue developing that professional relationship with them. When you are working on starting your business, that follow-up becomes a tool of its own.

Your number one priority needs to be growing your business, gaining a positive reputation, and establishing new connections in your industry to help support that growth. When you take time to let people know that you’re thinking of them, whether they are new contacts or older ones, it helps develop those relationships and can keep you moving forward.

3.Lose Some Ego

As professionals, we’re smart. We also need to be confident to succeed in business. However, neither being smart nor confident gives us the right to allow our ego to control our actions. Whatever the reason you’re involved in a startup, whether you are looking to break into a different industry, or you’re on the latest of many new businesses, it’s important to remember that your reputation cannot carry you here.

With a new venture, you need to develop a new name for yourself; you cannot rely on what you have accomplished before. It can help you get part of the way, but you must lose the ego if you want to go far. You need to establish your visibility and your credibility anew as part of the startup.

Have you ever owned or worked with a startup? What advice would you give to those who are just starting out? Share in the comments below

Give ONE Good Reason Someone Should Do Business with Youstring(56) "Give ONE Good Reason Someone Should Do Business with You"

Several years ago, I started watching episodes of the television show “Shark Tank” and I got hooked! The business reality series shows entrepreneurs making business presentations to a panel of five venture capitalists (called Sharks), who decide whether to invest in their companies. I found that there are some serious business lessons that can be learned by viewing the show and I saw one episode that really struck me.

There was an entrepreneur on that episode, Raven Thomas, who had started a food business called, The Painted Pretzel, which specialized in pretzels covered with chocolate and other confectionaries. Raven had a pretty good business and, according to the panelists, a product that was delicious. After a fair amount of discussion, one of the Sharks, Lori Greiner, got to the end of the conversation and asked, “Why should we invest in you?”

I realized at that moment that this was the big question, and I knew Raven’s answer could make or break the deal. Raven replied to Lori with… “The main reason is that I have two little kids and blah, blah, blah. . . (she went on about being a mom).”  I immediately paused the show, looked at my (now late) wife Beth, and practically screamed “She just blew it!  She totally gave a relational answer to a bunch of transactional SHARKS!  They don’t care about blah, blah, blah; they want something closer to ‘show me the money’ than ‘I love what I do!’” 

Know Your Audience

Beth replied, “You have to know your audience when you are talking about your business.” Her statement was spot on. Before I started to play the episode again, we talked about how crucial it was for Raven to speak the language that the Sharks speak if she wanted them to invest in her. She needed to speak a language focused on opportunity, growth, return on investment, and cold hard cash. Instead, Raven talked about how she felt about her business and how it related to her children. Her answer failed to include anything at all that the Sharks would relate to as serious, analytical business investors looking for reasons to convince them that Raven’s business would be a wise financial investment.

I realize that some people may be thinking, “That’s not right. That’s not fair. That’s not this or that…”  Well, I’m not talking about what is fair. What I’m saying is it was totally predictable. The moment she started to give that answer, I knew she most likely lost all chances of getting funded because she was giving a relational answer to transactional professionals.

I resumed watching the episode, sure that I would witness the train wreck which was about to ensue. To my astonishment, one of the Sharks, Robert Herjavec, gave Raven a “do-over” (I really like this Shark – if I am ever a panelist on a business show, I’d like to think my style would be similar to his). Robert looked at Raven and gave her a chance to give a better answer when he said to her, “Let’s do that again.

She took a moment and said, “A good reason to invest in me is that I had to walk away from a $2 million deal because I did not have the capital to fill the order. . . and that door is still open.” This answer was a showstopper—it completely captured the Sharks’ attention. Within a few moments, Mark Cuban (one of the Sharks who also owned the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team) offered Raven the $100,000 cash investment she was asking for. He also offered distribution of her products at his sports stadium and at each location of the movie theater chain he owns! Of course, she said yes to his offer. As a result, she expected her company’s sales to exceed $1.2 million dollars the next year!

The lesson to be learned is that it is absolutely imperative to know your audience and tailor your comments to suit the people you’re talking to. This is an extremely important lesson in both the business arena and the networking arena.

I’m not saying to tell them what they want to hear.
I am saying tell them in a way that they will best be able to hear it; a way that’s most relevant to them, addressing the talking points that they are most interested in.

This is one of the main reasons why I recommend that when you first meet people, you begin by asking them questions about themselves prior to speaking in length about yourself. The more you know about the people you’re talking to, the better able you will be to craft your own message in a way that effectively resonates with them.

I’d love to hear your story about people “knowing” or “not knowing” their audience in the comment forum below. Thanks!

I Remember the Days I Dreamed of Being Where I Am Nowstring(53) "I Remember the Days I Dreamed of Being Where I Am Now"

As I sit here, reflecting on my journey, I am filled with gratitude and a profound sense of fulfillment. Looking back on my life, I realize the significance of remembering the days when I dreamed of being where I am now.

My story begins in a blue-collar neighborhood, where financial limitations were a constant presence. Growing up in a community that faced its fair share of challenges, I often found solace in my dreams, envisioning a future that extended beyond my current circumstances. These dreams provided me with the motivation to strive for something more, to break free from the financial constraints that threatened to hold me back.

When the time came for me to pursue higher education, I was accepted to Occidental College in California with a 50% scholarship. However, the other 50% of the tuition was beyond my family’s means. Faced with this financial hurdle, I made the difficult decision to turn down the acceptance and enroll in a community college instead. It was a choice driven by practicality and the realization that I needed to find a way to build a better future without incurring overwhelming debt.

At the community college, I dedicated myself to my studies and took advantage of every opportunity available. Despite the initial setback, I refused to let go of my dreams. I nurtured my passion for learning, seeking knowledge and personal growth at every turn. It was during this time that I discovered my deep interest in networking and its vast potential to transform lives.  My time at the community college taught me valuable lessons in resilience, adaptability, and the importance of embracing opportunities, regardless of their origin.

Through dedication and perseverance, I built a solid foundation in business and began to establish connections and foster relationships within my community. This journey led me to start BNI (Business Network International), an organization that would later become a global phenomenon, empowering individuals to achieve their professional dreams through networking with like-minded people.

As BNI grew, I remained steadfast in remembering the days when financial constraints threatened to derail my dreams. This awareness fueled my desire to make business opportunities accessible to individuals from all walks of life, including those facing similar challenges. It became my mission to create a platform where individuals could connect, support one another, and rise together, regardless of their socioeconomic background.

In the tapestry of life, it is crucial to remember the days when our dreams seemed distant due to financial limitations or other hurdles. Growing up in a blue-collar, low-income area and making the difficult decision to forgo a prestigious institution in pursuit of my dreams has shaped my journey. These experiences taught me resilience, resourcefulness, and the value of seizing opportunities wherever they arise.

Today, after many decades of hard work, difficult choices, and long hours in business, I truly remember the days that I dreamed of being where I am now. It is also true that I thought I would be here with the woman that helped me achieve my success but life has led me to a different path and I am determined to move forward with gratitude.

As you reflect on your own journey, never forget the days when constraints threatened to limit your aspirations. Remember and embrace the dreams that emerged from humble beginnings, for they hold the power to drive you toward a brighter future. Cherish the lessons learned along the way, as they cultivate the strength and determination needed to overcome obstacles.

Dream big, persevere, and let your dreams guide you to remarkable heights. Remember, the days you dreamed of being where you are now are a testament to your resilience and unwavering spirit. They are the building blocks of a life well-lived, inspiring others – regardless of their circumstances, to believe in the power of their dreams.  

Soft Skills Make Strong Networksstring(32) "Soft Skills Make Strong Networks"

Some of you probably know that I’m not much of a “new age” guy. Yet, as an author and a businessman who started BNI®, which today has 308,000+ members in 77 countries, I believe in the immense power of the Law of Reciprocity. This concept touches upon the deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice for someone who did something nice for you.

There certainly is value in soft skills. For people like me who understand the value of soft skills but would also like to have some evidence as to why those soft skills work, I can tell you there’s a lot out there to support the Law of Reciprocity, starting with the Nash equilibrium theory (the acronym of which is, ironically, NET).

Nash’s Equilibrium Theory

Basically, Nash’s equilibrium theory states that the best result will come when everyone in the group is doing what is best for both themselves and the group. It is a form of reciprocity, and the optimal outcome of the situation is one where no individual has an incentive to deviate from their chosen strategy after considering the other participants’ choices.

Reciprocal Altruism

Reciprocal altruism is another form of reciprocity. It involves an equitable balance between collective altruism and personal need. Collective altruism looks at the needs of the group but doesn’t give strong consideration to the needs of the individual. Reciprocal altruism attempts to consider both the needs of the group and the needs of the individual.

In early writings by Socrates and Alexis de Tocqueville about ethics and government, the concept of enlightened self-interest was all about reciprocity. Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy which states that people who act to further the interests of others, or interests of the group or groups to which they belong, ultimately serve their own self-interest.
In other words, it is possible to do well, by doing good.

Givers Gain®

In the early days of BNI, I incorporated the use of the term, Givers Gain® from the very beginning. The underlying foundation of this term is predicated on the age-old concept of “what goes around, comes around”. However, it is more complex than that.

Business networking is about relationship building. I have found that the best way to build a relationship with someone quickly is to help them first. If you can help someone — and I don’t mean talking about selling them your product or service, I mean genuinely help them by giving them an introduction, information, or anything that serves their needs, you will begin to establish a professional relationship with them.

Creating a relationship helps build trust, and trust is the cornerstone of effective networking. When you practice Givers Gain often enough, you will be on the road to building a powerful personal network predicated on trust built through helping to serve someone else.

This concept, whatever term you choose to use – Givers Gain or the Law of Reciprocity, serves as a bridge between individuals and a community of people for collaboration of all kinds. It fuels individual and professional growth, along with increased referrals and business.

Benefits of Cooperation

Research has shown that social cooperation is rewarding to our brains. Cooperation increases the frequency of dopamine release within the brain. Interestingly, dopamine decreases without social cooperation. Each of the strategies mentioned above are about cooperation and collaboration, and each can increase dopamine production.

I once received an email from Amruth, a BNI member in India, with a great metaphor for this philosophy. He said words to the effect of: imagine that you have two spoons, a small spoon and a large serving spoon. Which one are we using the most? The small spoon serves only us, but the large spoon allows us to serve others.
The more that we all use the large spoon, the more we will all have plenty for the small spoon. A business networking group using the large spoon for everyone creates amazing success for all.
In the book, The Go Giver, co-written by my friend, Bob Burg, the authors say, “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”

 

Call it Nash’s equilibrium, reciprocal altruism, enlightened self-interest, or Givers Gain – by giving to, and helping others, you feel great. And oh, by the way, it comes back to you, many times over.

I believe that reciprocity is about taking off your bib and putting on your apron. This kind of networking is where individuals enter, and communities emerge.
THAT is how soft skills make strong networks.

 

 

 

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