Building Relationships Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
your C.P.A.

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?

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 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.

Strong trusted Network

Building a Strong Trusted Network

The best way to grow your business is by referrals generated from a strong trusted network. In the previous blog, I discussed building quality relationships. Growing more quality relationships in your trusted network will increase the number of referrals generated by the members in your network. What is a trusted network? How do you build a strong trusted network? This video further explains this concept.

A Strong Trusted Network

Quantity is good, but quality truly is king

What is important is the QUALITY, not the quantity, of the relationships that you have with the members of your network. Grow your business by growing a strong network of people who know all about your business and fully trust you. Furthermore, you completely trust every person in your network and have a full understanding of each of their businesses.  Finally, educate everyone regularly about the people you would love to be introduced to grow your business. That is a strong trusted network.

Imagine having your personal trusted network as part of a strong global network of 10,000 other trusted networks. Grow your local business with a global network. BNI’s (Business Network International) mission is to help members increase their business through a structured, positive, and professional referral marketing program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. In 2020, over 275,000 members of BNI worldwide passed over 11.5 million referrals which resulted in more than $16.2 billion USD in business. Visit a local BNI chapter meeting and learn how BNI can transform the future of your business.

Effective networking is not really what you know or who you know. It’s how well you know them that really counts. Therefore, the stronger the relationships are that you build with your network’s members, the more referrals you will receive from them.

Quality Relationships

Building Quality Relationships

Years ago, I learned that there is a correlation between the number of quality relationships and the number of referrals generated in a strong networking group. If you have a networking group of 16 members, that group has 120 relationships among all the members. However, a networking group of 32 members has 496 relationships among the members. Doubling the size of a networking group from 16 to 32 members has over four times the number of relationships. See the above graphic for an example of these relationships as chords of a circle. This video further explains this concept.

The Number of Quality Relationships Generated by the Members of a Strong Network

The number of relationships grows exponentially as the size of the group gets larger.  For example, if your networking group has 50 members, that networking group has 1225 relationships among the members. We have a few BNI chapters with 100 members. Therefore, they have 4950 quality relationships among their members. However, it is not the QUANTITY of members in your networking group that is important. What is important is the QUALITY of the relationships that you have with the members of your strong network. Growing more quality relationships in your networking group will increase the number of referrals generated by your members.

The formula: Number of Relationships = 0.5 x [(Number of members) x (Number of members – 1)] 

Quantity is good, but quality truly is king

The bottom line is that the more connections you have, (based on quality relationships of course), the more referrals you generate.  Grow your business by growing a strong network of quality relationships. For decades, I have seen groups that are twice the size of other groups in an area generate several times more referrals than their smaller counterparts.  The math is pretty significant and consistent. If you know your connections well enough to be able to call and ask for a favor–and get it–that is a powerful network.

Effective networking is about building strong relationships. If you approach the first months or year of your involvement in a networking group with the sole motivation of building relationships first by getting to know the other members well, you will be far ahead of the game. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that it is not really what you know or who you know. It’s how well you know them that really counts. People do business with people they know and trust. The more relationships you build with your members, the more referrals you can give to your members, and the more referrals you will receive from them.

building deep referral relationships

Get More Out of Networking by Building Deep Referral Relationships

To become successful at networking, you need to be building deep referral relationships. Many people rely on referrals from others as a primary source of business. However, not everyone who relies on referrals is successful.

Many people have surface-level referral relationships.  They know just enough about a referral source’s business to get by. They probably could not tell you anything else about the business than you can read on their business card. They have not built enough social capital with their referral relationships to count on them when they need something.

Building deep referral relationships is almost completely dependent upon the social capital you have built with someone. Social capital is like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal.

Building Social Capital Is the Groundwork for Future Payoff

In this video, I discuss why Building Social Capital is one of the best investments you can make to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network.

 

Do you have a personal story about social capital similar to the one I shared in this video about Alex? Please share your story in the comments below about how you have built great social capital with someone who is now just itching to help you in any way they can.

Are You Building Deep Referral Relationships?

Before you ask for a referral, make sure you have built a deep referral relationship first by knowing the following points about that person:

  • You believe they are an expert at what they do.
  • You trust them to do a great job and take great care of your referred prospects.
  • You have known each other for at least one year.
  • You understand at least three major products or services within their business and feel comfortable explaining them to others.
  • You know the names of their family members and have met them personally.
  • You have both asked each other how you can help grow your respective businesses.
  • You know at least five of their goals for the year, including personal and business goals.
  • You could call them at 9 p.m. if you needed anything.
  • You would not feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge.
  • You enjoy the time you spend together.
  • You have regular appointments scheduled, both business and personal.
  • You enjoy seeing them achieve further success.
  • They are “top of mind” regularly.
  • You have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further.

Referral Relationships Reality Review:

  1. What conclusions do you have about the depth of your current referral relationships?
  2. Are your relationships more or less in line with these points?
  3. What points can you improve upon to deepen your relationships?

Over the years, people have asked me to promote something for them.  It happens to me almost daily on LinkedIn. Now, I don’t want to pick on LinkedIn.  It can happen on any social media platform. The majority of those who contact me have never actually met me or had a previous conversation with me. They never invested in the relationship, yet they wanted a withdrawal from it. Please stop and do not pitch to me (or anyone) on LinkedIn.

You may be shocked at the level of personal knowledge required for building deep referral relationships. I completely disagree if you believe that referrals should be all about business. Referrals are personal. It takes a lot to develop this type of relationship. When you give a referral, you give a little of your reputation away. You need to know the person that is going to affect your reputation but those who do will certainly succeed at building a business from referrals.

share

When is the Right Time to Share?

Today’s guest blog is an extract from Andy Lopata’s book, “Just Ask”, about when was the best time for me to share my cancer diagnosis with others.

When Ivan Misner was diagnosed with prostate cancer, working out how to fight his illness was just one challenge he faced.

Ivan was the figurehead and CEO of the world’s largest face-to-face business networking organisation, Business Network International (BNI). As much as he might have liked to focus on his medical challenges with just the support of family and close friends, he didn’t have that option. Particularly as he had chosen to fight the cancer naturally, by drastically changing his diet.

Ivan told me how he planned to share the news with his wider network and different stakeholders in his business. “People are going to find out, they are going to ask, ‘Why are you eating so crazy? Why are you losing weight?’ I’m going to doctor’s appointments all the time, so I figured just talk about the elephant in the room, calm everyone down and tell them that you have a plan.

“I made a list of eight different levels of people. Number one was extended family; my wife and kids were technically number one but they found out immediately. Number two, close family friends. Number three were key management people in the company, the top managers in BNI.

“Number four were the employees at headquarters. I literally called a staff meeting and said, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on, I just wanted you to know, what questions do you have for me? That was really important; if you don’t let them ask their questions, they are going to be asking each other and they are going to be making stuff up.

“Franchisees worldwide were number five. The sixth one was global employees and independent contractors. Number seven was an email that directors could share with members and number eight was a public posting on my blog.”

Ivan was inspired by self-development guru Brian Tracy, who had suffered from throat cancer a couple of years before and who had been very open on his blog about his journey. Ivan resolved to share ‘the good, the bad and the ugly’, making sure that people would know at all times how he was progressing. He posted every three or four months for the first year and then once a year after that.

“It calmed everyone down. This may not work for everyone but I liked it because everyone knew I had a plan. I kept saying to them, ‘If it doesn’t work, I will go and get surgery, I promise.’

“You can’t control the message but you can manage it. I was constantly managing the message, to the point of writing a book sharing the full story and the recipes that I used to completely change my diet”.

Timing is a key factor in ensuring that you benefit the most from sharing with the people around you. Leave something too long and you may find that you’ve missed the moment when other people’s help would have been most effective or their suggestions would have worked. You also face the risk, as Ivan observed, that people notice for themselves that something is wrong and you start to lose control of the message.

If you ask too early, you may feel that people will see you as someone who is not able to find solutions for themselves, who panics or who overshares. Every situation is different. Ivan calculated when he should share his news with each interested party to remain in control of the conversation. Think about the best time to share and whether different people need to be involved at different times.

Andy Lopata‘s book, “Just Ask”, is available now.

The book is available to buy on Amazon (UK) and via Amazon (US) and from booksellers around the world.

Digital copies of Just Ask are available via: http://lopata.co.uk/justask/

Please click here to find a list of online outlets.

You can also order it from an independent book retailer in your area. 

Ask for a Favor

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?

Most of us have been in situations where someone asked for a favor long before they built the social capital to make that kind of request, if they built any capital at all. Building deep referral relationships is almost completely dependent upon the social capital you have built with someone. Social capital is similar to financial capital in a very important respect. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal. Relationships are very much the same – referral relationships in particular.

How Alex asked for a favor

Alex was what I would call a casual business associate, but from early on after our introduction, every time I spoke to him, he invested in the relationship. He gave me ideas, gave me his time, he even did some work on a website for me mostly as a favor. He invested…and invested…and invested.

I kept asking how I could help him, to return the favor and reciprocate for all the kindnesses and great help he’d been to me. His answer every time was, “I don’t need anything. I’m happy to do this.”

This went on for almost a year. Every couple of months, Alex would show up on my radar and do something for me.

Then, one time, he phoned me and said, “I have a favor to ask…” and I stopped him right there.

“Yes!” I said.

“But you didn’t even hear what the favor is!” laughed Alex.

I replied that I didn’t have to hear what the favor was. I told him I knew him well enough to know he was not going to ask me something impossible, and that he had invested so much into the relationship that I would do anything in my power to help.

You may ask for a favor

Before you ask for a withdrawal, make sure to make an investment, and build a deep referral relationship. If you can answer “yes” to most or all of the following points about a person and his or her business, you would have a pretty deep referral relationship:

• You trust them to do a great job and take great care of your referred prospects.
• You have known each other for at least one year.
• You understand at least three major products or services within their business and feel comfortable explaining them to others.
• You know the names of their family members and have met them personally.
• You have both asked each other how you can help grow your respective businesses.
• You know several of their goals for the year, including personal and/or business goals.
• You could call them at 9 o’clock at night if you really needed something.
• You would not feel awkward asking them for help with either a personal or business challenge.
• You enjoy the time you spend together.
• You have regular appointments scheduled, both business and/or personal.
• You enjoy seeing them achieve success.
• They are “top of mind” regularly.
• You have open, honest talks about how you can help each other further.

X
Throughout my career, I have had huge number of folks come to me and ask me to promote something for them. The thing is, the majority of those who contact me have never met me, never had a conversation at all. They’ve never invested in the relationship, yet they want a withdrawal from it and ask me for a favor!
elephant

How to Network with the Elephant in the Room

Experienced networkers understand that networking is not always a perfect 100% satisfaction guaranteed activity. A member can sometimes have a problem with another person in their networking group. However, instead of talking with this person to resolve the problem, the member avoids this person due to their personal discomfort, and the unresolved problem can grow into a larger situation. Now, the situation has created “the elephant in the room”, which could cause drama within the networking group.

Drama can occur in any group where wide varieties of people and personalities interact. This is also true in business networking groups that meet weekly for in-person or online meetings. If the physical avoidance between these two members is obvious to others at the networking meeting, the negativity from the situation could be felt by others in the group as “the elephant in the room”, potentially causing drama within the group.

What is “the elephant in the room”?

The elephant in the roomis defined as “a metaphorical idiom for an enormous topic or controversial issue that is obvious or that everyone knows about but no one mentions or wants to discuss because it makes at least some of them uncomfortable”. The member, due to discomfort, ignored the initial problem with the other person and avoided them during the group meetings. Therefore, the unresolved problem grew into a larger situation that became very obvious to the other members of the networking group. The initial problem between these two members evolved into “the elephant in the room” for the entire networking group. So, how do you tame and remove the elephant? Here are three of the most common situations why a networking group might have “the elephant in the room” and my suggestions for gracefully taming each of them:

Elephant #1: Poor Referrals

The reason for joining a networking group is to build strong relationships with the members to refer business to one another. Normally, this is a win-win for the member receiving the referral because their business grows with a new client, as well as a win for the member who gave the referral because of Givers Gain®. However, a small percentage of referrals may be poor referrals. They take up time but do not result in closed business. When something goes wrong and a member receives a poor referral, this can create the first elephant.

People who are experiencing a problem with a fellow member tend to talk about the problem to other members instead of talking directly with the fellow member that they are experiencing the problem with. This can actually make the problem worse.

Talk with the member giving you poor referrals.

In most of these situations, nothing was wrong with the actual referral. Usually, the problem was simply caused by miscommunication. Do not perpetuate problems by avoiding open, honest communication with others. Take the time to talk about it in a non-confrontational way. Talking right away will avoid making these awkward situations even worse.

Elephant #2: Personal Disagreements

Networking would be so much easier if people were not involved. Although networking is all about building relationships with people, personal disagreements are inevitable and problems occur. Avoiding each other due to discomfort and not talking with each other to resolve the disagreement creates the second elephant.

Focus on the solution rather than on the problem.

If you only focus on the problem, you become an expert on the problem. All too often, when facing a problem, the first thing we tend to do is focus on the negative situation. This tends to move us further from finding a way to fix it and that does not help the problem.

You must begin to start focusing on ways to resolve the situation by focusing on solutions. Rather than react, take the time to fully analyze the problem then make a list of possible solutions. When we think of ways to overcome our problems, we are prepared for the next problem down the road. Often, all that is needed is honest and direct communication between the two members to solve the disagreement.

Elephant #3: Breakups Between Members

Networking groups tend to attract like-minded people. Sometimes they bring two of their members together for more than just business. Over the years, I have known many couples that dated, fell in love, got married, and started a family together all because they first met at their networking group. On the other hand, this can quickly create the third elephant if the relationship ends badly and the two members remain in the same group after the messy breakup.

Take the higher ground and continue to network.

Given the value of your network, it is worth working through those feelings if you find yourself in a breakup with another member of your networking group. Do not lose your network of valuable referral sources you have built. The more professional you remain following the breakup, the higher your regard will be by your group. Therefore, remember not to talk badly about the other person or discuss the breakup situation with other members of the group.

Whatever the reason, many people involved in business networking may one day face a situation with “the elephant in the room”. Remember not to focus on growing the problem but on growing your business. Do not burn bridges with people in your group by avoiding them or the uncomfortable situation. Instead, talk to them about your concerns. You never know what the future will bring. You might end up being friends and valued referral partners with the former elephant.

Asking For Expert Advice From Your Personal Mastermind Group

Every good business network can become a personal mastermind group that is accessible by its members to gain knowledge and information from the other members. Even though you are networking to receive referrals for your business, you also gain access to this diverse group of business professionals in your network. If you have not been asking for expert advice from your fellow members, you are missing out on an amazing benefit: a personal mastermind group.

A powerful business network not only can help you expand your business, it also can help you improve your business. There is nothing more powerful than having a room full of people who are ready and willing to help you succeed as your personal mastermind group. However, asking for expert advice from your fellow members requires a little finesse. Here are a few thoughts to ponder when you want to ask someone in your network for advice.

Five Tips to Consider Before Asking For Expert Advice

1. Before you ask for something, give something.

It is important to build some social capital with the people in your network before you start asking for favors. Seeking help from people before you have given anything is a little like trying to get a withdrawal from your banking account without having put anything into it first.

2. Restrict your requests for advice to that person’s area of expertise.

Otherwise, you risk putting a fellow network member on the spot and making him or her uncomfortable.

3. Do not have hidden motives.

If network members believe you are seeking advice as a subterfuge for promoting your own services, they will not only be offended and unwilling to help you, they may also feel less confident about your ability to help them.

4. Avoid potentially controversial and sensitive issues.

This may sound like common sense, however if you delve too far into the personal topics, you could cause discomfort and damage the relationship.

5. Do not ask for advice that people would normally charge you for.

A quick question or two is fine, however you want to avoid excessive questioning. There is a difference between soliciting free advice and encroaching upon asking for free services. You do not want to do anything that will jeopardize the strong business relationship you are building with them.

The Rewards When Someone Is Asking For Expert Advice

Receiving a request for your expert advice can lead to so much more. An owner of a small creative-services firm wanted to relocate to another state. However, she became frustrated with the difficulty in communicating with the various state agencies that were two time zones away. Her plans came to a standstill.

The business owner decided to ask for expert advice from the certified public accountant (CPA) in her networking group during an upcoming one-to-one meeting. She provided a brief overview of her situation to him. The CPA was very knowledgeable about the state that she wanted to move to. The business owner was rewarded for asking for his help. He quickly provided her lots of expert advice on moving her business.

Furthermore, the CPA was also rewarded for giving his expert advice. The owner of the creative services firm hired the CPA to help resolve her problems with the move. Then, she transferred all of her financial and record-keeping functions to his firm. Plus, she also referred to him three other business owners as potential clients. In return, the CPA connected her with a major new customer. Surprisingly, all of this happened from a single request of asking for expert advice from one member of a networking group to another. Givers Gain®

Build your business networking group and grow your personal mastermind group too. Think about the expert advice you would love to discuss with someone. Then, you and your fellow chapter members can invite these various business professionals to visit your chapter. If one of them decides to join your chapter, you will have someone to build a strong relationship with to turn to for the expert advice you seek as part of growing personal mastermind group.

36 years

36 Years of Growth, Passion, Inspiration, and Changing Lives

BNI is approaching 36 years of consecutive growth since it launched in 1985. I do not know of any other organization in the world that can point to that. In those 36 years, there have been many disruptions including recessions, wars, and major weather events (such as earthquakes, wildfires, and tsunamis). Nevertheless, BNI has continuously grown for 36 years.

2020 has been full of many of these disruptions in addition to a global pandemic, which led to people spending most of the year in “the great pause”. However, I believe we can actually help even more people this year recover and grow, too. Today, BNI has the most comprehensive set of collateral material, educational content, and technology available to help support and change the lives of business owners worldwide. Therefore, our local BNI members have every resource needed to help support and change the lives of their local business community.

Watch this video to learn about the special tool I used in 1985 to open 20 BNI chapters in that first year. The theme for this advice will help anybody in any business.

36 Years of Passion and Inspiration

Over the years, I was passionate about spreading the word and helping more and more people succeed in their business. Nothing great in life has ever been done without a little bit of passion. Although I love the technology, processes, and systems we have today, the one thing we need for chapters to grow is passion. What first made you passionate about BNI? Think about this and share your “MY BNI” story with other business owners. Share your passion with them and help inspire them to change their lives. I want you to inspire people. I want you to inspire people to inspire other people. Take away all the stuff and you can still inspire others to grow. Trust me, I had nothing but one sheet of paper and a ton of passion for what BNI could do for others. I was passionate about helping people with their circumstances to change their lives, and we grew and accomplished great things together.

 36 Years of Changing Lives

Today, people need BNI, communities need BNI, and countries need BNI. More than they did almost 36 years ago. I believe that together we can again make a difference in more people’s lives. Let’s make 2020 BNI’s 36th year of consecutive growth. Help me in spreading our “Givers Gain” philosophy and BNI’s mission around the world. Together, we can help other business people to get through these challenging times. Let’s celebrate 36 years of changing lives with BNI.

Passion: It’s the one thing no one can give you. With passion, you can make a difference. More importantly, you can change lives. Focus on your passion and focus on inspiring more people in your community to change their lives. They need you. Now, more than ever, they need BNI.

hunting

Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting

Over the years, I have observed that most business professionals go about networking the way our cave-dwelling ancestors went about hunting for food. If I could impart one piece of wisdom regarding networking and getting more referrals, it would be this: Networking is about farming for new contacts, not hunting them.

Premature Solicitation

Has a complete stranger ever solicited you for a referral or business? I call this “premature solicitation.” I have been its victim many times. Years ago, I was speaking at a networking event, and before my presentation, an unknown person approached me and 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?”

I replied with the following response: “Hi, I’m Ivan Misner. I am sorry. I do not think we have met before. What was your name again?” That surprised the man enough to make him realize his solicitation might have been a bit premature. I continued to explain to him. “I regularly refer people to my contacts, but only after I’ve established a strong, long-term relationship with the service provider”. He thanked me and moved on to his next victim.

Over the years, many people have shared with me their frustrations about strangers who pounce on them at networking meetings and ask for business. However, occasionally someone will share with me that they approve of using “premature solicitation”. Here is one example that I received:

Hunting Networkers

“I don’t happen to believe that you need a relationship with the person you are asking first. What you must have is a compelling story or product/service that would genuinely benefit the referral. The fact that you had not cultivated a relationship with the person has become irrelevant because, more importantly, you had been in a position to help [your contact] benefit from the introduction. If it’s of genuine benefit to the person being referred, I don’t see the problem. Who am I to deny my contacts something good?”

The relationship is “irrelevant”, according to this person. It does not matter if I actually know or trust someone. As long as the person has a worthy product, I should not “deny my contacts something good.”  I absolutely disagree, and I would ask anyone interested in business networking to keep the following in mind:

  • Networking is not about hunting.
  • Networking is about farming.
  • It’s about cultivating relationships.
  • Do not be guilty of premature solicitation.

Farming Networkers

This kind of networker is also meeting people. However, they build relationships first, instead of just adding names to a contact list. They are building referral sources to people that were referred to them by their strategic alliances. Proper networking is about taking the time to cultivate relationships. Use networking opportunities to first meet people, Then schedule additional times to connect and build trust with them. Do not ask someone for a business referral until you feel confident that the person knows and trusts you.

Networking is indeed like farming. Commit to mastering what it takes to efficiently and effectively harness the potential in your “relationship crops” and you will reap a bountiful harvest of mutually satisfying relationships and sustainable growth in your business.

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