Networking at Conferencesstring(25) "Networking at Conferences"

There are prime opportunities for networking at Conferences and Trade Shows, whether they take place virtually or in-person. We often attend these events with the single idea that we are there to take something away – information, education, free samples. However, don’t overlook  the many ways to make new contacts and connections that can be useful to spread the word about your business.

Four Suggestions for Networking at Conferences

  1. Make new friends. Conferences are a great opportunity for making new connections. Don’t hang out only with the people you already know. Mix it up! Sit next to and talk to different people throughout the show. Go beyond a short and friendly greeting of hello with a smile. Introduce yourself and then ask about them and their business.

  2. Meet the competition. Trade shows are events where you can meet hundreds of people if you have a booth. Remember to meet and talk with the other exhibitors as well; do this as an attendee, too. They are all there to generate new business and meet new contacts, just like you are. These are the people you’ll want to follow up with first after the event.

  3. Let your voice be heard. If the conference has workshops, volunteer to speak. Presenting at a business conference is a marvelous way to attain more exposure for your company and your own area of expertise. To obtain this opportunity, you’ll want to plan in advance by meeting the coordinators of the event well ahead of time.
    My recommendation is, when you attend a conference for the first time, make it a point to introduce yourself to the person responsible for booking the topics and speakers for next year’s event. Begin developing a relationship with this individual for the next year now.
  1. Be social. If the trade show you’re attending has a mixer or other networking event, don’t miss it! These are wonderful ways to make initial contact with people you’ve never met before. It pays to be there…many times over!

Don’t view these social events as the chance to close a deal, but rather as the first step down the long, profitable road of friendship and mutual benefit with a new referral marketing partner.

Follow-Up is Crucial

Of course, all of this good advice is worthless if you don’t engage in the critical follow-up process after the event. Plan a time to make a phone call, schedule a lunch meeting, or to send an email as a way of following up with the new connections you made. This is essential to build the foundation for a strong business relationship.

The most important thing I can impart to you is that you must approach this with a sense of wanting to learn as much as you can about the other people that you meet, instead of trying to tell them all about you.

Keep these points in mind when you have the chance to attend a conference or a trade show. Intentionally move out of your comfort zone to make new business contacts in addition to taking away information and education from the event. When you apply the tips in these suggestions, you’ll gain a whole new level of networking success.

What suggestions do YOU have for successful networking at trade shows and conferences?

Networking for the Life of Your Business

Networking for the Life of Your Businessstring(40) "Networking for the Life of Your Business"

Smart professionals know that business networking is essential for their success. They are active in select groups and organizations where they consistently participate and build relationships with other members. And the most successful entrepreneurs plan for, and are committed to, long-term networking for the life of their business.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Networking truly is a marathon; it is definitely not a sprint. When we join a Chamber of Commerce and Industry, or the professional association for our vocation, or a referral marketing group such as BNI®, we plan to be part of that group for many years. We build it into our strategic plan because we know that membership in these types of business networking groups is important as our company grows over time. We decide that we are going to be intentionally networking for the long haul, not just for a short trip.

Don’t confuse activity with accomplishments. Business networking is not about bouncing here and there, or approaching it with a go-go-go attitude. Making a quick appearance at a multitude of events just to be seen is usually unproductive.

Visibility is Only the Beginning

Visibility is important; it is part of the VCP Process®. Visibility is indeed good, however we have to build Credibility and invest the time to turn Credibility into Profitability for the process to work. This is done by building relationships. Successful entrepreneurs take their time and get to know the members of their business networking groups. Learn about their businesses and find out how to help them reach their goals, then teach them how to refer business to you. Remember, if your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you will never achieve the success that you want.

Invest the time to develop a networking strategy that fits YOU. Understand that networking takes time, patience, hard work, dedication, commitment, and endurance. Networking longevity is about building genuine, trusted, and mutually beneficial relationships that are bountiful for years.  

Which of your professional memberships have you had the longest?

Building an Effective Knowledge Networkstring(39) "Building an Effective Knowledge Network"

As a business professional, you need a constant supply of information to achieve success. It is important to stay aware of issues and trends, and to keep up with technological and economic changes, all of which help you stay competitive. Perhaps you have already discovered that it is nearly impossible to keep up with all this information on your own. There is simply too much of it.

Your “knowledge network”, which is what I call the information component of your network, is made up of your most knowledgeable sources. These are the people who can provide you with the knowledge and expertise for success and business growth.

Fortunately, the knowledge you may lack is always someone else’s specialty, allowing you to turn to others for the help you need. That is why you want to set up your network’s information component with a group of contacts who know and understand what you must do to achieve success in your business, AND who have the experience to help you achieve your goals.

Categorize Your Knowledge Network Members

It is paramount to know in advance whom to contact and where to go to get the information you need. Here are suggestions for the types of people to include in your information network:

  • People like you: There are some distinct advantages to seeking out people who have the same goals and interests as you, and who are also striving to achieve the same thing you want to achieve. They are collecting the type of information you need, and vice versa. Partnering with them can help you both get the information faster by sharing the research efforts.

  • People who ARE in your profession: As a rule, your best information sources will be people who are successfully doing what you want to do (perhaps in a different location or serving a different clientele). They will know about the trends and issues in your field and may have experienced some of the challenges you are now facing. They will have current directories, and information about upcoming events related to your profession, as well as relationships with vendors you may need to hire.

  • People who WERE in your profession: Find out why they are no longer in that field. What happened to their business? What are they doing now? Did they make the right decision to leave the profession? Talk with those who were successful and those who were not. This information may be valuable in helping your future business planning.
     
  • Authors: People who write or produce books, articles, audio, and video about your profession are key subject experts. They usually have broad and deep knowledge about procedures, systems, technologies, tactics, and developments in your field. A few tips from these individuals could save you money and time.

  • Regulators: People who regulate, audit, or monitor professionals in your field can certainly tell you stories about the legal, procedural, and operational pitfalls that you might run into. Additionally, they probably know how to survive those pitfalls. You may even discover legal loopholes that can make life and business easier.

  • Trainers: The wonderful thing about trainers is that they specialize in imparting knowledge. They help people understand the basics; they introduce new technologies, procedures, and techniques. It is beneficial to gain access to their training materials; if necessary, sign up for training sessions.

  • Consultants: Business professionals use advisors and consultants to help them solve problems that they find difficult to handle alone. Some consultants are generalists, while others are specialists. Most are skilled in assessing problems.

  • Members of professional organizations: People who are active members of trade, business, and professional groups are prolific sources of information. Their membership gives them access to directories, newsletters, seminars, presentations, calendars of events and more. By networking, they stay in touch with current developments in their industry. Spending time with them will help you discover new ways to do things.

Identify Your Knowledge Network Members

Begin by writing the names of people that you know, or that you know of, who fit into each of these eight categories. List as many names as you can think of before you do anything else. Aim to identify at least three people in each category.

If necessary, you can use a name in more than one category, but it’s better to come up with as many individuals as possible. Remember, it is information that you want from your knowledge network, more people = more information. Once you have as many names as you can think of for each category, go back and fill in the contact information for each one.

When you have a full list of people in each of the categories, start connecting with these people to enhance and improve your knowledge network. Connect with them on social media platforms. Attend the same networking and business meetings that they do so you can make an introduction and start a conversation with them. Begin the process to build a professional relationship. AVOID selling to them and asking for help before you establish the relationship.

You can build an effective knowledge network, your own ‘think tank’, by following these steps and using your existing contacts, along with making new ones. By doing so, your network and the information you need to build your business will expand and grow.

Buck Up Blog

Buck Up Buttercupstring(17) "Buck Up Buttercup"

For many of us, a great amount of our business life and personal life is taking place on video calls. There are tremendous benefits to these video interactions, and there are certainly some challenges, too.

Why Does Everything Have to be a Video Call?

Video calls aren’t quick or easy, they require planning. We’re not just going to talk to someone, we’re going to be looking at them, and they will be looking at us. There is the time needed for personal primping to look our best. There is time needed for tidying up our background, and we need to do background noise abatement before a planned call. We have to do our tech test and check our equipment prior to the call to ensure we have a quality video connection.

A voice-only phone call involves very little preparation for our personal appearance, and our office or house doesn’t have to be meticulously cleaned to talk with someone on the phone. And remember, we DID conduct business – quite successfully – by regular phone calls for years!

Is It Okay to Just Say NO to a Video Call?

Of course it is. Simply say… “Let’s do this by phone please.” When stated professionally and respectfully, most people respond to that statement with “Sure, a phone call is fine.” 

During the workday, I sit at my desk for hours. Sometimes I prefer to walk around and talk. I use a headset while stretching my legs during the phone call. It is a comfortable way to have a productive conversation.

Some people worry that others will automatically assume that the reason they don’t want to be on video is because they don’t like how they look. Personally, I don’t generally care what other people think about unimportant things. If it troubles someone, I suggest using the “I need to walk around” reason. 

Are Some Types of Calls Better on Video?

Absolutely! Meeting with a new client is definitely a good time to use a video call. Having that eye contact and seeing a smiling face helps to build the business relationship right from the start.

Having a video call with someone you haven’t seen in a while is also a good idea.

If you are doing a presentation for a prospective customer, a video call can be a very effective way to meet with their entire team of decision makers.

Video Call Etiquette

Most of the business etiquette for in-person meetings applies to video meetings. You can build and maintain your professional credibility by using these suggestions. 

  • Be on time – which means you need to arrive five minutes early. Because everything on a video call is highly visible, even arriving a few minutes late will be noticed. If you are unavoidably going to be late, contact the person who is leading the meeting by text, phone and/or email.
  • Know the status of your microphone – always know when you are muted or unmuted. Costly mistakes happen when others hear something they shouldn’t because you think you’re on mute when you are openly broadcasting.
  • Stay focused. Put your multi-tasking urges aside for the duration of the call. Others can tell if you are checking your phone, typing, or talking to someone else who is in the room with you.
  • Make eye contact by looking directly at your camera more than you are looking at the video feed of yourself and others. 
  • Don’t interrupt when someone is speaking. By waiting 1-2 seconds after they have finished talking, you can avoid “double speak”, which is when attendees speak over one another, and no one is heard.
  • And for goodness’ sake – wear pants!!! You need to be fully dressed for ANY video call. I haven’t seen the pants thing yet, but I did have a woman who bent over directly in front of the camera and left nothing to the imagination.

 “Zoom fatigue” may be a real thing but I ask you to think of the alternative. What if Covid happened in 1991 instead of 2021?  Virtually everyone would be out of business!  There wouldn’t be video-call-fatigue, there would be bankruptcy.
Zoom fatigue – you kind of need to get over that.  I mean, Buck up Buttercup.

We need to FOCUS ON THE BENEFITS of today’s available technology that provide the opportunity to not only survive, but to thrive.

Ignoring You is Easystring(20) "Ignoring You is Easy"

We are designed to empathize with and endear those who are in our direct line of sight. We rely on personal interaction as a reminder of the people in our professional networking world. In business we cannot afford to be in the category of “out of sight, out of mind”.

Five Ways to stay visible to your customers, prospects, and referral network

  1. Email – One of the easiest forms of communication can also be the least effective. Emails are quickly dismissed because they take such little effort, and we receive so many of them. Because most of them are solicitations, avoid sending out only “spam”. Be sure that your emails offer value and always make them as personal as possible so you don’t unintentionally irritate your friends and business associates.
  2. Phone – That goes for texting too – make them as personal as possible. Most people can tell if the message is a “group” blast rather than personally tailored to them. Some will take it as a friendly reminder that they wanted to talk to you, however, many will just hit delete when they realize you’re making a generic sales pitch. Remember that your phone also makes calls, and you can actually talk on it. Sometimes a 5-minute call to a client from their business consultant (you) will go far to create loyalty with your company.
  3. Social Media – Whatever your social media preferences are, you’ll want to be active on those platforms with three to five posts each week. Moreover, only one-third of your posts should be focused on business. Why? It is possible to have hundreds of connections without any real friends. They want to know you as a person first, then as someone who has passion, and finally as a businessperson who shares about their profession.
  4. Face-to-Face – As we have more opportunities for in-person interactions, look for occasions to meet with referral partners. Perhaps it is sharing a meal while strategizing how to help each other’s business or stopping by your customer’s shop to say hello while you are in the area.
  5. Thank-you Cards – Ahh, the forgotten art of a handwritten note! Think back to the last letter that you received in the post or mail. How did you feel reading the words that someone took the time to write especially for you? It is easy to do and so appreciated. One suggestion is to keep some blank thank you cards and envelopes with a stamp on them in your briefcase or vehicle. Write the card immediately after the meeting or appointment, then drop it in the nearest mailbox.

Are you easy to ignore? If so, you had better do something about it. Knowing the preferred communication style of your clients and referral network as you implement some of these ideas will help you stay visible and remembered.

You Don’t Know Who They Know

You Don’t Know Who They Knowstring(30) "You Don’t Know Who They Know"

What does this mean? There is a common perception that you have to meet a CEO or other influential people to get large referrals that will result in big sales.

Your friends, family, acquaintances, and referral partners probably have powerful contacts that can help you and your business. The only way to find out who they know is to ask them; give them the specific name of the person you want to meet. Never underestimate the depth of the pool that your fellow networkers are swimming in.

The Value You Bring

The value that you bring to a referral network or strategic alliance is directly related to the number of relationships you have and to the quality of those relationships. It doesn’t take a corporate executive to connect you with another corporate executive, or a rich person to introduce you to another rich, influential person. When you approach networking like farming rather than hunting, you can cultivate relationships with your fellow networkers that lead to introductions to the rest of their relationships.

Always Go to Dinner

A high-end property developer was invited to a networking group’s golf tournament to see what referral networking was all about. He only went because he loved to golf. As a big-money developer, he “didn’t need to network”. He attended the awards dinner afterward only because his foursome won.

At the dinner, he was seated next to a financial advisor who had grown wealthy through referral networking and had become a property investor. In conversation, the guest mentioned that he was having trouble getting a bank loan on a big property deal. The financial advisor said he might be interested in investing. Within a few days, they were negotiating a six-figure deal. Always go to dinner – you never know whom you are going to sit next to. Always pursue the networking opportunity at an event.

The diversity of your contacts is much more important than looking for the “big guys.” Surround yourself with quality people in a lot of different professions. Focus on the quality of the relationships you develop and cultivate those relationships on all levels. Because… you don’t know who they know.

Around the World People Want Referrals

Around the World – People Want Referralsstring(42) "Around the World – People Want Referrals"

The idea of growing your business through referral marketing is a concept that crosses cultural, ethnic, and political boundaries.

Years ago, I determined that the common denominator is because people want referrals! The public wants referrals, the business community wants referrals, it seems that everyone wants referrals. Becoming part of an organized, professional networking group is an effective way to get those referrals.

Is Business Networking Really Different?

During the time that BNI was first expanding to many countries around the world, I was frequently told that this type of networking wouldn’t work in other places. Ironically, the first time I heard “this won’t work here, we’re different” was from someone is Southern California talking about people who were 25 miles away in another part of Southern California!

I later realized that this person just didn’t want to do the necessary work to build their referral business. Rather than say, “I don’t want to do that”, it was easier to say, “we’re different here”. I was amazed that some people refused to follow the tried-and-true fundamentals that were proven to create referrals.

Building a Personal Network of Trust

You need to invest the time to gain trust and credibility within your network to generate the referrals you seek. Here are some networking tips for building relationships with foreign – and local – businesses.

  • As part of a network, keep a positive attitude and leave a good impression.
  • Maintain and cultivate your network by keeping in touch with them.
  • Do what you say you are going to do and do it when you say you will do it.
  • When asking your network for business advice, let them know that by helping you, they are also helping someone else (your customers).
  • Be cross-culturally aware. Do some research about best business practices before contacting someone in another area.

The value of having your personal network of trust applies wherever you do business.

Business is Business

My experience has shown that people in any entrepreneurial economy can use a networking system to improve their business. If this system is done within the cultural context, the networking concepts and techniques are also completely transferable from one country to another. The truth is that business is business when it comes to relationship marketing, regardless of culture, ethnicity, or political persuasion. Most entrepreneurs want to conduct business more effectively to get results.

Building business relationships through networking to get referrals is an idea that works. It resonates with businesspeople all over the world. It resonates in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Different people – different places, different countries – different cultures, different races – different religions, we all speak the language of referrals.

Can You Network Too Much

Can You Network Too Much?string(25) "Can You Network Too Much?"

Before I share the answer about networking too much, I have a question for you. How many hours do you spend each week doing networking activities for your business or your job?
This is networking activity, not client appointments or cold calls. Include ALL of the different networking that you do.

Average or Beyond?

In the book, Business Networking and Sex (not what you think), my co-authors and I surveyed 12,000 businesspeople and shared the results.

We found that the average businessperson spends six and a half hours a week on their networking efforts. This includes BNI and networking group meetings, chambers of commerce, civic and service clubs.

If our goal is to be average, we have to spend six and a half hours a week. I think that eight hours a week is more effective.

Wow, 8 hours a week! At first, it might sound like a big number. We all agree that networking takes time. It takes time to plan our networking activities and it takes time to attend them. However, there is more we can do to get the MOST out of those activities.

Effective Use of Networking Time

Do you arrive early and stay after the event to talk with new people and deepen the relationships with those you already know?

Do you plan what are you going to say about your business while networking?

Do you talk about a specific part of your business with a clearly defined Target Market that others can easily identify?

Do you listen, really listen, when others share about their business, taking notes to help you find potential referrals for them?

Do you have a prepared testimonial for one of your networking partners, telling others what a good job they did for you or someone you referred to them?

Have you contacted two or three business friends to attend the networking event with you? Maybe someone who is already a good referral source for you – are they getting the benefits of business networking?

Remember to follow-up with those who will be attending the event with you. A quick call or text the day before is reassuring to them and lets them know you want them to be there.

Do you review your notes after each networking activity to see if you have a possible referral for a fellow businessperson?

If so, take action – contact those potential referrals and make the connection to your networking friend who can help them.

Do you meet with strategic networking partners outside of organized events to continue building a mutually beneficial business relationship?

How about sharing something you heard at a networking meeting on social media? Not to sell anything, just to help advertise the expertise and business of others in your group.

Are you continuously learning about effective networking skills, techniques, and opportunities? There are many resources available to those who dedicate time for their own education.

All of these suggestions can expand your networking time in effective ways to get the results you desire.

So, is it possible to network too much? The short answer is, yes; if you are spending more than eight hours a week, you might be spending a little too much. You don’t want to burn yourself out. However, you can do well with a thoughtful, intentional plan for your networking efforts.

Remember that networking is a marathon, not a sprint. We invest two things in business networking – time and money. For the best results, TIME is our major investment. Do we want average results? Or are we willing to Give more to Gain more?

Good Customer Service Alone Doesn’t Win Referralsstring(51) "Good Customer Service Alone Doesn’t Win Referrals"

Many businesspeople are under the impression that if they provide good customer service, people will automatically refer business to them. Of course, customer service is important. But good customer service is just a prerequisite; it is a minimum expectation.

Think about it. Would you refer somebody to me if I provided lousy customer service? Of course not. Your own credibility would suffer.

Good customer service is part of what the prospect expects when you refer them to me. If you are recommending me to them, I must be something pretty special, right? And if I want to keep that customer coming back, I have to provide more than the minimum expectation of simply good customer service. I will need to provide great, outstanding, memorable customer service to really stand out.

The Misconception about Customer Service

In my book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, I say that some people are under the delusion that good customer service alone was enough to enable them to build their business through word-of-mouth. This misconception about customer services is one of the delusions people have about networking and referral marketing.

People don’t refer business to you because you meet their minimum expectations. They refer you because they expect you to do a good job which, in turn, enhances their relationship with the person they are referring to you. They expect you to provide outstanding value to the prospect. They want that person to come back to them and say, “Thanks for sending me to Joe Trueblue. He had just what I needed, and the service was great. You sure know some outstanding people!”

Your referral source has a strong interest in making sure everyone comes out a winner. They know that when the happy customer comes back to you again and again, you are more likely to send business their way when the need arises. The great service you provide to the customer comes back to you in the form of a stronger relationship with your referral partner.

My friend Bob Burg, author of Endless Referrals and The Go-Giver, shares his view on what it takes to consistently receive referrals:

Of course, having an excellent product is important. However, technology today has made that commonplace and expected. In order to have qualified prospects “beating a path to your door,” you must be able to network and to market yourself and your product or service in such a way that it makes people want to do business with you and refer you to others. You need to provide them with such a great buying experience that they know they made the right decision. However, to get them there in the first place, it’s the networking and marketing that’s most important.

Being in a referral group like BNI is one of several important parts of an effective word-of-mouth marketing plan. One of the things these groups emphasize is that you need to be very specific in what you do and in how your product or service is uniquely valuable. If you use general terms, you’re at the lowest level of competitive effectiveness. And if you say, “customer service,” that’s not what people are buying.

In the book Truth or Delusion, we say that you don’t sell the process; you sell the result:

Talking about what you do does not motivate people as much as what happens to their client or friend as a result of what you do. I used to sell copiers, and I never met anybody who was buying good customer service. They were buying the ability to make photocopies quickly and reliably. They weren’t shopping for customer service, because that’s a prerequisite. It is part of what creates that end result.

The Importance of Testimonials

Referral networks often feature third-party testimonials, in which someone who has used your product or service tells the group, “I’ve used Maria’s products, and I’m here to tell you, they’re the best I’ve ever found.” Hearing it directly from someone they know is often enough to get people to believe it and act on that belief.

Testimonials are crucial to the referral process, especially within referral and networking groups. When you stand up and say, “I’ve used this person’s business, and you should use this person too, because . . .” and then go on to explain why, it is powerful and can change how people view that service provider. Your experiences become my experiences. This makes it much easier for people to refer that provider–even if they haven’t personally used their services yet.

Remember, unhappy customers are 11 times more likely to talk about your business than happy customers. Good customer service only reduces negative word-of-mouth; it doesn’t necessarily increase your business through positive word-of-mouth. Build an effective network of strong business relationships to increase your referrals.

your C.P.A.

Do Not Allow Your C.P.A. To Ruin Your Businessstring(46) "Do Not Allow Your C.P.A. To Ruin Your Business"

We are living in a world more connected than ever. However, this hyperconnectivity can create situations when your C.P.A. can effect your business. Working from home can easily lead to a state of “Continuous Partial Attention” (your C.P.A.). This occurs when people are only partially paying attention to others during their online networking or Zoom meetings.  There are some definite pitfalls in our hyper-connected world when we are not giving our full attention to others. Your business relationships and networking may be affected because of your C.P.A. in these three situations.

Monitor your C.P.A. when attending your online networking meetings

Continuous partial attention can hamper your relationship-building efforts – on both a personal and professional level. When attending an online function of any type, it is becoming increasingly common to find people typing away during the meeting. They remain connected to their emails and social media networks during their meeting. This desire can dilute our efforts by driving us to stay “live” online with other things instead of with the person in front of us. You can easily watch them on camera not paying attention to the meeting. Even worse, they fall asleep in their recliner during the online Zoom meeting with their camera live for all to see until they are awoken by another chapter member calling their phone.

Keep your C.P.A. away from your phone 

Speaking of phones. We have probably all experienced being in conversation with someone at an in-person networking function and getting pinged during the conversation. This is happening much more now during online meetings. When we take our attention off what is happening in front of our nose to take a look at what is happening on our phone, we lose the connection with the person who is presenting. We will not remember this part of the conversation well, if at all. And we send a subtle message to this person that he or she does not matter as much as the various pings coming in on our mobile device do.

Our desire to connect and be connected is one of the strengths of business networking. Therefore, when doing online networking, or when we return to in-person events, we will want to effectively be connecting with others. Over the years, I saw people many times on their phones texting during networking meetings, such as at a BNI chapter meeting, a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, or even a gala dinner event.

Be honest: whom do you greet first when you get up in the morning — your spouse, kids, the dog, OR your virtual community? Do you reach for your phone before you even throw your legs out of bed to get up? I have found myself doing that. Consider waiting to look at your mobile phone until after you are ready to receive messages. For me, I wait to turn it on until after I am up, have exercised, showered, and had my breakfast. Furthermore, I think social media is great. I use it regularly to stay in touch and build relationships. But knowing when to focus on your networking and not your phone is extremely important in this digital age.

Do not allow your C.P.A. to distract you when working online

Most of us work from our computers, laptops, or tablets with notifications switched on. Our email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Teams, and WeChat accounts are sending us notifications. Across your screen, they distract you with their messages. “Look at me! Someone retweeted you! Someone wants to be your Friend!” Even people who do not have ADD are working in a state of attention deficit due to the distraction all these notifications cause.

It is very easy to lose track of whom you have just followed up with. You end up sending your follow-up email twice. You reference something you were discussing with someone else. Worse yet, you send an email to the wrong person entirely. (Who hasn’t done that?) Continuous partial attention keeps you from being alert, attentive, and focused and can hamper your post-event follow up not to mention your day-to-day activities.

Don’t allow your C.P.A. to ruin your business. Continuous partial attention can hamper your efforts to build profitable business relationships with the people you want to connect with. I believe a price is being paid by how this constant connectedness is affecting our real-time relationships. The truth is that our brains are not capable of multi-tasking. Brains don’t work like a computer, which can have many programs running simultaneously. Our minds have to switch among tasks. Some of us can task-switch extremely quickly, seemingly multi-tasking, but we are not actually multi-tasking. Others of us task-switch with a little more difficulty, making it extremely challenging to really pay sustained attention to anything when we try to multi-task.

deep

Is Your Network a Mile Wide But an Inch Deep?string(45) "Is Your Network a Mile Wide But an Inch Deep?"

Is your personal network deep or shallow? Chances are, it is a bit of both. A shallow network is where all of the people you meet will start, and where far too many of them will remain. In the course of developing your network, you meet and learn a little about lots of people. However, you don’t go much deeper. You don’t know much more than the superficial things about these people — their names, their jobs, and maybe one or two other small facts about them.

A deep network contains the contacts that you know much more about, and who usually know much more about you. The question is, how strong is the deep part of your personal network? It’s great to have a large network, but if it is a mile wide with tons of people in it with no deep relationships (or very few of them), it will never be powerful.  To maximize the relationship, you want to know as much about that person as possible. You want to find out about their family, their hobbies, their interests, etc.

You need both a wide and a deep network

One of the masters of developing a deep network is entrepreneur, author, and speaker Harvey Mackay. It is truly amazing how much information Harvey asks for — and retains — when he decides you are someone he wants to have in his deep network. When I met him for the first time, I remember having a nice conversation. The second time I had a conversation with him, he started up with the following:

  • So, how are your kids?
  • You’ve got three, right?
  • What’s Ashley doing now?
  • What’s Cassie doing now?
  • And how’s Trey doing?
  • Is he about ready to go to college?

I was flabbergasted. How did he remember all that? The more I spoke to him, the more I realized he must have taken notes. As it turns out, that’s exactly what he does. To help him deepen important relationships faster, he takes careful notes about things important to the people who are important to him. Harvey Mackay carefully catalogs that information and adds to it every time he meets with someone, with things such as children’s and pets’ names, your birthday, the anniversary of your business — tons of information.

Harvey Mackay developed a great method that helps him deepen relationships. To be successful at building a powerful personal network, you need to develop a method that works for you. We live in such a sound-byte society. After a simple, “Hi, good to see you again”, so many people jump right into business without getting to know the other person. That’s too bad because one of the things I’ve found is when you get to know somebody, amazing things happen.

The GAINS Exchange

One of the best ways I’ve ever seen for shallow — or casual — business relationships to deepen is through a tool called the GAINS Exchange. Looking back, I remember the first time I introduced the GAINS Exchange into my business. GAINS stands for “Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills”. I wrote these five elements on a paper so that two people who meet for the first time — or who had met only briefly and had a shallow relationship — could take turns learning about each other’s GAINS and writing them down.

Build trust with deep connections

Guess what happened? They had known each other casually for a year in a networking group — and had never done business with each other. Within three months of discussing their GAINS, they began passing referrals to each other. This began because they found out they were both soccer coaches, and that made a deeper connection between them that led to trust. If they had continued with their more “shallow” relationship, they may have never passed a single referral. It’s really fun to see two people at a GAINS Exchange that start out learning about each other on a business level by asking each other the following questions:

  • What do you do for a living?
  • Describe what your business is like?
  • What are you looking to do to grow your business?

Then, one of them shares something unique, like an unusual hobby or an unusual place they dream of traveling to see, and conversation just takes off.

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be very powerful. You need a strong and stable network that is both wide and deep. Like the supporting roots of a huge oak tree, some of your referral relationships need to go deeper. You create deeper relationships by learning as much as you can about other people. You want to find out details about their family, their interests, and their goals. Get to know them a little bit better to learn what is important to them.

cannot remember

I’m sorry, I cannot remember your namestring(40) "I’m sorry, I cannot remember your name"

What do you do when you meet someone and you cannot remember their name? That can be embarrassing. I have observed this many times over the years during networking events. I have also observed the different ways others have dealt with forgetting someone’s name. Some have just faked it by engaging in a conversation hoping to get a clue. They try to remember where the other person was from or how they knew them. On the other hand, I have heard people come right out and say, “Hey, I’m sorry I forgot your name” or “I’m sorry I do not remember where you’re from”.

In this video, I share a story from one of my blog readers which describes a scenario of this very nature and I answer his question of what I would have done if I were in the same sticky situation.

What not to do when you cannot remember a name

If it happens to you, I recommend that you do not say, “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” or “I don’t remember where you’re from”. I have found that people sometimes take it personally that you can’t remember them. No reason to embarrass yourself and embarrass them because you don’t know who they are. They might begin to avoid you because you did not recognize them earlier.

Finally, you do not want to say, “Nice to meet you”. Even if you do not remember meeting the person, they clearly know you, so you are most likely not “meeting them” for the first time.

What to do instead

When you forget someone’s name, I recommend saying, “Hi, good to see you”, then strike up a simple conversation to help you remember based upon the current situation or event you are attending. Starting a dialogue is a great way to shake up the gray matter in your head to try to remember who they are. If you still cannot remember after conversing a while, it’s time to stop trying and move along. Before leaving tell them, “Hey, it was nice to see you again. Gotta run. Talk to you again next time”.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will help you to remember people’s names–and it actually works!

OK, not remembering someone’s name has happened to me too. Saying “good to see you”, then engaging in a dialogue is a great approach to remember their name. If you absolutely do not want to use this technique, a fall-back approach can be one that someone once shared with me: “Sorry, I’m having a total ‘Senior Moment’ and I don’t recall where we’ve met”. Feel free to use that if you do not feel very brave with the “good to see you” approach. However, be prepared for some bruised feelings.

If you’ve ever been approached by someone and drawn a complete blank trying to remember their name, or even where you know them from, you know how awkward and embarrassing that situation can be. Finally, always wear your name badge when networking in person so that the people you meet can easily remember your name.

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