Sorting Out Who’s Whostring(27) "Sorting Out Who’s Who"

So, let’s say you’ve just returned from a networking event where you met a lot of new people and now you have a pocketful of business cards that you’re not sure what to do with.  What’s your first order of business?  Your first order of business is to sort out who’s who.

You need to separate the people you think might become new clients or referral partners right now from the ones who might be valuable contacts sometime in the future but not right away.  Let’s call the first group your A list, the rest your B list.  (Sounds kind of Hollywood, doesn’t it? :))  When you enter them into your contact database, labeling each contact as part of group “A” or “B” would be good to include (along with type of business, address, phone number, event where you met, etc.).

Now that you’ve got your contacts filed away neatly, take a look first at your B list. You want these folks to know you enjoyed meeting them, and you want to keep the door open for doing business with them later on if a good opportunity arises.  You can do this with a quick note by either e-mail or snail mail.* If you find you need to reconnect with one of these people at a later time, you’ll at least have some traction in the relationship simply because you followed up with a quick e-mail.

Now, what about your A list? These are people who have immediate potential as referral partners.  You need to follow up with them quickly–within a few days, before you drop off their radars.  First, initiate a “coffee connection” with each of your new contacts, a follow-up meeting where you can get to know her and find out how you can help her.  Anything short of trying to find ways to help her will generally be treated as a sales call instead of a relationship-building contact.  To ask for this first meeting, either a handwritten note or an e-mail is acceptable.*

At this point, you may be asking, “What about the people I meet who aren’t potential clients and aren’t in a field that can refer business to me?  Should I follow up with them anyway?” Absolutely!  You never know whom other people know; even a quick little “Nice to meet you” e-mail is better than not doing anything at all and hoping these people remember you later when you discover a need to do business with one of them.

Now that you know how to sort out who’s who, be sure to do this each and every time with the business cards you gather in your daily networking activities and, I guarantee you, you will start to see greater results from your networking efforts.

*Come back on Thursday to read a blog entry with specific examples of what your follow up notes to group A contacts and group B contacts should say–I’ll give you two free follow-up note templates so you’ll have no excuses for not following up with your new contacts.  Trust me, following up couldn’t be any easier than this!


Being Right But Doing It All Wrong!string(35) "Being Right But Doing It All Wrong!"

The business I’m in involves a lot of coaching and guiding of franchisees to teach them how to coach and guide entrepreneurs, salespeople, and professionals to generate referrals for themselves and others.  Sometimes this feels a little like ‘herding cats’; entrepreneurs hate being told what to do and it takes a real skill set to move them in a direction that involves a lot of hard work but will help them achieve the results they want.

One of the biggest challenges I have in this process is not with the actual entrepreneur or salesperson but with the individual I’m coaching to be able to guide the entrepreneur or salesperson. These people have gone through many hours of training, tend to have a fair amount of field experience, and have support manuals that exceed a thousand pages of documentation to assist in the process.   They are true expertsI’ve discovered, however, that sometimes expertise can actually be a problem. Just because your expertise may arm you with the knowledge to recognize the solution to a problem or challenge, it doesn’t mean other people are going to automatically ‘believe’ you know the solution and/or want you to actually tell them the solution.  I know that sounds counter intuitive; however, if you’ve ever raised a child, you know that this is often times absolutely true!

So, let’s say you’re an expert.  You know you’re an expert.  You know that you can help someone else.  You also know that this “someone else” is a grownup who runs their own business or is an independent sales rep who chose their particular career for good reason . . . they like the freedom of being independent.  How do you move these people in the right direction?

I had a person who worked for my company who once went into one of my locations and was appalled by how badly things were being run by the members of the group.  She let them know in no uncertain terms what they were doing wrong and how they needed to turn it around. Her assessment of the situation and the solutions she proposed were spot on but her presentation of them was all wrong. She was so blunt with the group’s members that she received a very negative reaction from them and ended up leaving the place an even bigger mess than it was when she first walked in.  When I met with her to talk about how she might have done things differently, she grew furious with me for not supporting her since she was right and the members of the group were wrong.  I wasn’t arguing that she was right–she was.  The problem I had was how she handled the situation–in that area, she was completely wrong. I tried to explain this to her by sharing one of my favorite sayings relating to the dilemma:  “Don’t burn down the barn to roast the pig.” In other words, don’t make things worse than you found them when you were trying to fix them in the first place.

She could never really wrap her head around the concept that people may not welcome her advice with enthusiasm and agree with her stance on an issue when she was clearly right.  She didn’t work for me for much longer (make of that what you will) and, eventually, we got an expert to work with that group who ‘listened’ to their issues,  Built relationships with the group members, and then coached them into achieving the greatness they had within them.  It’s important to note that this process took time and patience.

There are two things I try to teach people in this situation.

First, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” If you want people to listen to you when you are coaching them or re-directing them, they have to know that you care about them and want them to succeed.  If they don’t know this down to their core – they will not listen to your advice.  Ever.

Second, is a saying given to me by mother on a paper weight when I was about 16 years old and I was running an uphill battle for a student council race.  My mother gave me this paper weight (which is still on my desk in my home to this date).  The paper weight says: Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way.” When she gave me that, she explained that I had to learn how to work “with” people – not “through” people.  She said that even if I did know the answer to a problem – it did no good if no one else believed me.  That advice helped me win the election and it has helped me many times throughout my life.  I have to admit that I don’t always use it as well as I can – however, when I do use it, things almost always go more smoothly.

The bottom line is this: being right doesn’t help much if no one is willing to follow you.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Maybe you can share a story . . . but, remember to keep it positive.  Let’s focus on positive outcomes more than just horror stories.

Lessons Learned Wearing a Nametag for 10 Yearsstring(46) "Lessons Learned Wearing a Nametag for 10 Years"

Scott Ginsberg is celebrating his tenth anniversary. He’s been wearing a nametag for 10 years in a row. He has never taken it off. That’s right, 10 years = three thousand, six hundred and fifty days = 87,600 hours = 5 million two hundred fifty six thousand minutes = 31 million 531 thousand seconds and counting. He’s the world record holder. He has even tattooed his nametag on his chest and is the only person in the world who has made a career out of wearing a nametag.

Scott developed the nametag profession as a way to teach people how to overcome their shyness and the awkwardness of making that first introduction. In the process, he has become the authority on how to be approachable and turn being approachable into being profitable.

And now he’s taking a crack at trying to jumpstart the whole of humanity to evolve to a whole new realm of human ability.

 “-able is the title of his newest book. In it you will find 35 strategies for increasing the probability of success in business and in life including:

  •  How to be more findable than a smile at a nudist colony
  •  How to be more referable than an attorney hopped up on sodium pentothal
  •  How to be more salable than a case of Coors Light at a Colorado Rockies tailgate party.
  •  And more advance-able, more book-able, more brand-able, more buzz-able, more callback-able, sought-after-able and unstop-able in everything you are trying to achieve in life, and much more.

Scott Ginsberg theory is this: The only thing in life that you have control over is yourself, and that you can’t make anything happen — but you can greatly increase the probability of that thing happening … by making yourself more –able.

In –able, Scott Ginsberg offers up a collection of life-learned practices for advancing things along with wit and humor and wisdom that will have your head spinning in no time flat.

Here are some examples directly from Scott’s book:

1. Ideas are free; execution is priceless. Anybody can wear a nametag. But not anyone can leverage a simple idea into a six-figure enterprise. Lesson learned: Your biggest advantage is when nobody can keep up with you. You have to be dangerously prolific. And refuse to slow down long enough for anyone to catch up. That’s how you out-execute the competition. And here’s how: First, executional velocity. Take action quickly. Second, executional volume: Take action prodigiously. Third, executional value: Take action exquisitely. Finally, executional vitality: Take action consistently. Are you an idea person or an execution person?

2. Never be stopped by not knowing how. Accept that the planets will never be aligned. Don’t wait until everything’s perfect. Don’t wait until you’re experienced enough. Don’t wait until you know what you’re doing. Don’t wait for overwhelming evidence to trust yourself. Heighten your impatience; enter into the heart of action and jump off the high board hoping there’s water below. Otherwise procrastination -– the redneck second cousin of patience –- will rob you of the motivation you need to carry in the cavalry charge. Finished is the new perfect. How will you leverage impatience as fuel for your motivation?

3. Ambition without focus is bankruptcy. How you spend your day -– literally, hour by hour -– will determine how much money you make, how happy you are, how healthy you are and how successful you become.  You almost have to force yourself to create a typical day. Otherwise you get cabin fever and your time not only manages you, it drives you insane. I’m not suggesting you choreograph every waking hour of your life. The challenge is designing a typical day for you, which enforces (some) structure and predictability, while still leaving room for spontaneity and playfulness. As long as you constantly ask yourself if what you’re doing -– in this moment -– is consistent with your No. 1 goal. Have you pictured your ideal day yet?

4. Anonymity is biggest barrier to success. I wear a nametag 24-7. I literally have zero anonymity whatsoever. I’m not suggesting you do the same. In fact, I strongly suggest you do not wear a nametag 24-7. About a fourth of the time, it’s a flat-out pain in the ass. But consider the adverse relationship between anonymity and profitability. A good start would be to throw away your marketing plan and begin writing a visibility plan. Because it’s not who you know –- it’s who knows you –- and, whose life is significantly better because they know you. How are you making people aware of you?

If you read Scott’s new book, let me know what you think.

Personality in a Deck of Cardsstring(30) "Personality in a Deck of Cards"

Everyone wants to learn about their personality style.  This is especially true with people who understand the value of networking.  But most people don’t like taking boring written quizzes and assessment.PPoker-book70

Enter “Personality Poker” – what I think is a fun and interactive way to learn about your personality.

Personality Poker is played with a specially designed deck of cards. They look like regular poker cards except they also have words printed across the faces. The words are personality descriptors like organized, analytical, empathetic and creative.

For those who know poker, Personality Poker is played like 5 card draw. Participants receive 5 random cards and swap/trade cards until they get a hand with words that best describe their personality. Based on the suits, the colors, and numbers that they end up with, the player will learn everything about their personality.

The suits represent the four main styles:

Spades. These are the analytical, data-oriented people.

Diamonds. These are the stereotypical “creative” individuals. They like ideas and experiences.

Clubs. These are the people who “plan the work and work the plan.” They’re more about structure and action. Bottom-line results are critical.

Hearts. These people are all about relationships. They make decisions based on what others think and are more empathetic and supportive.

The numbers represent the “energy styles” and provide deeper insights into the personalities.

The 2, 3 and 4 cards represent the unproductive behaviors associated with each style. For example, being “organized” is great, but being “anal retentive” may be less desirable.

The 5 – 9 cards represent the “introverted” styles. Although these individuals may prefer more solitary work, taken more broadly, introversion also includes a tendency to be more easily overwhelmed by stimuli that are deemed too intense. They prefer predictability and a low likelihood of risk.

The 10 – A cards represent the “extroverted” styles. They thrive on higher energy activities. Although they may not be as good at focusing on single tasks, they get energy from action rather than reflection and are known for their ability to motivate others to get things done.

The last dimension of Personality Poker is reflected by the colors that symbolize the two primary “thinking styles.”

Rational/Analytical. The black cards (spades/clubs) are more rational and are the ones who put the “no” in innovation. Knowledge and expertise are a cornerstone of their thinking style.

Relational/Creative. The red cards (diamonds/hearts) are more relational and are the ones who put the “fun” in dysfunctional. While employees enjoy their leadership style, the business could end up in the “red” if someone with red cards is in charge as they are not as organized or focused on the bottom line.

What is particularly fun is to “gift” cards to others. That is, find cards that describe people you work with and give them those cards. It is an interesting insight to see if you see yourself differently than others see you.

Although Personality Poker was primarily developed as a tool for driving innovation in corporations, people enjoy finding out about themselves in a fun and interactive way. You may never look at yourself–or your co-workers–the same way!

Click here to find out more about the book.

For those of you who read the book and play the game, please come back and leave a comment letting me know what you think about it!

Don’t Give Up Five Minutes Before The Payoffstring(46) "Don’t Give Up Five Minutes Before The Payoff"

I received this story from one of my readers. I think it is a GREAT example of how networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Don’t give up too soon. It  is all about relationship building, and that takes time!

In any endeavor, there is an objective in mind . . . a goal line to cross. When I first joined my networking group, it was to get enough referrals and closed business that I could make more money than the cost of membership. Being an investment advisor, I was made aware that the time horizon for a quality referral was the longest of any profession represented around the tables.

The first time I joined a networking group was in November, 2007, and even though that group eventually dissolved, I was fortunate enough to find a seat in another flourishing group in November of 2009. During the declining period of my first networking group — through its loss of charter, core group restart process and eventual dissolution — I was beginning to despair. I was approaching the two-year mark with no referrals, and my group was washing out from under my feet. My friends and colleagues started asking me, “What are you getting out of it?” Driving to one of the final meetings before my group disbanded, I was contemplating giving it all up. Then I remembered an affirmation from years ago: Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle happens.

Anything one believes must withstand self-scrutiny, so I really took a hard look at why I kept attending. The answer was simple: I believed it would eventually provide the results I expected. Additionally, there are other intangible benefits that are hard to quantify. My networking group provides a business education that is not taught in schools, and the larger bonus . . . it’s also the practice lab. I believe in systems. If you focus on the right systems, the results will follow. You (Ivan Misner) say networking is about “farming,” not “hunting,” which requires the nurturing of relationships in order for them to yield anything fruitful, much the way a farmer must attend his crops or orchards.

So the payoff? After two years and three months, I received my first referral from one of the relationships I built from my first group. The size of the account was four times what I expected, and since I work on a fee-based schedule instead of commissions, the income stream from this exceeds my yearly dues and renewal fees. One referral has and will pay for my membership in perpetuity.

Don’t give up five minutes before the miracle happens!

Expanding Your Overall Sphere of Influencestring(42) "Expanding Your Overall Sphere of Influence"

The foundation of any word-of-mouth marketing effort is people.  Your sphere of influence represents the overall number of people with whom you network. These are people you know either very well or as casual acquaintances.  To evaluate your sphere of influence, take inventory of the people you already know.

Surprisingly, many people have never established effective networking relationships with others they’ve known for a long time.  Preparing your inventory is as simple as asking yourself, “Whom do I know?” or, “Who knows me?” This includes everyone with whom you interact or might interact with, personally or professionally:

  • Clients
  • Business associates
  • Vendors
  • Creditors
  • Employees
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Others

Go through your software database, e-mail contacts, Rolodex, mobile phone contacts and business card collection. Discard the names of all people who have moved on or with whom you’ve lost touch. Analyze your relationships with the ones you feel are still current. Ask yourself, “How well do I know them?” Then determine whether each individual is a Strong Contact (a close associate with whom you will network actively) or a Casual Contact (an acquaintance with whom you will network passively).

Remember, the more people you network with actively, the greater your sphere of influence will be.

Bob Burg’s 10 Networking Questions That Work Every Timestring(61) "Bob Burg’s 10 Networking Questions That Work Every Time"

My good friend, networking expert Bob Burg, has 10 questions he personally uses when networking that he believes every networker should memorize.

Bob explains that these questions are not designed to be probing or sales-oriented in any way; they are all friendly, fun to answer, and will tell you something about the way the person answering them thinks.  You’ll never need or have the time to ask all 10 questions during any one conversation but, still, you should internalize them.  Know them well enough that you are able to ask the ones you deem appropriate for the particular conversation and time frame.

Here are the 10 questions:

1.  How did you get started in the (______) business?

2.  What do you enjoy most about your profession?

3.  What separates you and your company from the competition?

4.  What advice would you give someone just starting out in the (______) business?

5.  What one thing would you do with your business if you knew you could not fail?

6.  What significant changes have you seen take place in your profession through the years?

7.  What do you see as the coming trends in the (______) business?

8.  Describe the strangest or funniest incident you’ve experienced in your business?

9.  What ways have you found to be the most effective for promoting your business?

10.  What one sentence would you like people to use in describing the way you do business?

Like Bob says, you’re not going to get to ask more than a few of these questions during an initial conversation,  so don’t worry about sounding like you’re conducting an interrogation. These are feel-good questions people enjoy answering, and they are meant to establish an initial rapport.  So next time you’re at a networking event, try using a few of these questions and then come back and leave a comment about how using them worked out for you; I’m more than willing to bet you’ll be pleased with the results.

Using the Power of Networking to Go Globalstring(42) "Using the Power of Networking to Go Global"

We now live in a fully global society, and referral networking has become a prominent marketing strategy in this global society for one reason: It works. The idea of growing your business through word-of-mouth marketing is a concept that crosses cultural, ethnic and political boundaries because we all speak the language of referrals, and we all want to do business based on trust.

Referral networking is a cost-effective way to get in front of new clients worldwide, and it’s a much better way to keep a business prosperous over the long term (because it’s built on mutually beneficial relationships between you and your fellow business owners). Referral networking is powered by the oldest and most enduring principle of human society–Givers Gain–the idea that the good you do will eventually come back to you in one form or another.

Earlier this year I did a live telebridge interview with my colleague Paul Martinelli on the topic “Going Global via the Power of Networking,” and we had more than 500 people call in from all over the world. To me, this truly demonstrates the worldwide interest there is in global business building through networking, and it’s a testament to the fact that networking will only become more vital to business success in modern times.

If you’d like to get in-depth advice on how to use the power of networking to go global with your business, you can Click here to get free access to the recording of the interview I did with Paul Martinelli on the subject.

The Networking Disconnectstring(25) "The Networking Disconnect"

I was at a big networking event with more than 500 people in the UK this summer, and the person who spoke before me asked the audience: “How many of you came here hoping to do some business–maybe make a sale?”  More than half the people in the audience raised their hands. He then asked, “How many of you are here hoping to buy something?”  No one raised a hand–not one single person! This is the networking disconnect.

If you are going to networking events hoping to sell something, you’re dreaming. Don’t confuse direct selling with networking. Effective networking is about developing relationships. I know, I know . . . there’s always someone out there who says, “But, Ivan, I’ve made a sale by attending a networking event!”  OK . . . I’m not saying it doesn’t ever happen–it does.  I’m just saying it happens about as often as a solar eclipse. Face it, even a blind squirrel can find a nut. Any businessperson can stumble on some business at a networking meeting from time to time. However, when you have most of the people at an event trying to sell and virtually no one there to buy, you’re crazy if you think the odds are in your favor to “sell” at a networking event.

So why go?  You go because networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It’s about developing relationships with other business professionals. Sometimes you go to a networking event to increase your visibility, sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know, and sometimes you may even go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the VCP Process and not about closing deals.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Being ‘in Sync’ With Your Networking Partnersstring(57) "Being ‘in Sync’ With Your Networking Partners"

My wife, Beth, and I were in South Africa recently on safari at Camp Jabulani in the Kapama Reserve. Camp Jabulani has a beautiful suspension bridge between the main lodge and the guest suites. If you’ve ever walked over a suspension bridge, you know the feeling of the springiness under your feet as you walk. It was almost like wearing those Moon Boots I got for Christmas as a boy!

As we made our way over the suspension bridge, we noticed pretty quickly that when we did not walk in sync, the bridge’s flexing and bending jarred both of us as we tried to walk across. When we walked in sync, it was much easier to walk in a way that didn’t make us look like drunken sailors!

This started me thinking about networking relationships and the importance of being in sync with our referral and networking partners.

When I think about walking in sync with other businesspeople, I think of collaboration, cooperation, and maintaining a focus on how we can help each other (what I call Givers Gain). These three elements are critical for successful relationship marketing.

In order to build the kinds of mutually beneficial relationships you desire, it’s important to keep in mind what I call the proximity effect–networking is a contact sport. You must stay in contact with each other in order to benefit from a collaborative relationship. Profiting from a business relationship without staying in contact with one another is like getting a haircut over the phone—I have never seen that done!

Staying in touch can include holding one-on-one meetings with each other to learn more about each other’s business and referral needs, and to ask, “How can I help you?” Having a Givers Gain focus is the most effective way of supporting your referral partners.

We all need to make a commitment to maintain a focus on how we can help each other in business. This is a new thought pattern for most business owners. We aren’t schooled or trained in thinking “How can I help you?” when it comes to those with whom we are in a particular business community. More often than not, we think, “What can I get out of this relationship?” If you do business with a Givers Gain mentality, you will turn that thought pattern on its head.

Relationship networking is a good way to get business; it’s an even better way to do business. As you walk in this rhythm, you will find others getting in step with you, and everyone will do better business as a result.

How Soon Should You Expect Profitability from a Relationship?string(61) "How Soon Should You Expect Profitability from a Relationship?"

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve written a few blogs on the VCP Process® of networking and, since I’ve already covered visibility and credibility in detail, today I’m going to tell you what you need to know about profitability, the third and final phase of the VCP Process.

The mature relationship, whether business or personal, can be defined in terms of its profitability. Is it mutually rewarding? Do both partners gain satisfaction from it? Does it maintain itself by providing benefits to both? If it doesn’t profit both partners to keep it going, it probably will not endure.

The best piece of advice I can give you in regard to when to expect to get to profitability is to be patient. The time it takes to pass through the phases of a developing relationship is highly variable.  It’s not always easy to determine when profitability has been achieved: A week? A month? A year? In a time of urgent need, you and a client may proceed from visibility to credibility overnight. The same is true of profitability; it may happen quickly or it may take years, but most likely it will be somewhere in between. It will depend on the frequency and quality of the contacts and especially on the desire of both parties to move the relationship forward.

Shortsightedness can impede the full development of the relationship. Perhaps you’re a customer who has done business with a certain vendor off and on for several months, but to save pennies you keep hunting around for the lowest price, ignoring the value this vendor provides in terms of service, hours, goodwill and reliability. Are you really profiting from the relationship, or are you stunting its growth?  Perhaps if you gave this vendor all your business, you could work out terms that would benefit both of you.  Profitability is not found by bargain hunting. It must be cultivated. And, like farming, it takes patience.

Visibility and credibility are important in the relationship-building stages of the referral-marketing process.  But when you have established an effective referral generation system, you will have entered the profitability stage of your relationships with many people–the people who send you referrals and the customers you recruit as a result. It’s an essential part of successful relationship marketing and networking.

Moving from Visibility to Credibilitystring(37) "Moving from Visibility to Credibility"

In last Thursday’s blog, I explained that visibility, the first phase of the VCP Process®, brings the opportunity to build credibility and that credibility is what will ultimately get you to profitability, where you’ll actually benefit from your networking and relationship building efforts.

So how do you move from visibility to credibility?  Well, once you and another individual achieve visibility with each other, meaning you’re aware of each other and the nature of each other’s business, you begin to form expectations of one another; once those expectations are fulfilled, your relationship can enter the credibility stage.  If each person is confident of gaining satisfaction from the relationship, then it will continue to strengthen.

Credibility is the quality of being reliable, worthy of confidence.  Credibility grows when appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, facts are verified, and services are rendered.  The old saying that results speak louder than words is true.  Failure to live up to expectations–to keep both explicit and implicit promises–can kill a budding relationship before it breaks the surface of the ground and can create visibility of a kind you don’t want.

To determine how credible you are, people often turn to third parties.  They ask someone they know who has known you longer or perhaps has done business with you.  So, how credible are you?  Would the people in your network vouch for you by saying that you are reliable and honest, your products and services are effective, you keep your appointments, act on your promises, deliver results as expected, and can be counted on in a crunch?  If you’re not sure, now is the time to make a strategic effort to build your credibility; without credibility, you can forget about achieving profitability.

If you’re interested in learning more about profitability (If you’re in business, it’s safe to assume you’re very interested. ;-)), the third phase of the VCP Process®, and when you should expect to achieve it with your contacts, be sure to come back and read this Thursday’s blog.

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