Strong trusted Network

Building a Strong Trusted Networkstring(33) "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 Relationshipsstring(30) "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 Relationshipsstring(66) "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?string(32) "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?string(42) "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 Roomstring(44) "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 Groupstring(60) "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 Livesstring(60) "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 huntingstring(57) "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.

Ruin Reputations

Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputationsstring(37) "Giving Referrals Can Ruin Reputations"

Referral marketing is the most effective form of advertising. However, many approach referral marketing with an “Old Faithful” attitude. All they have to do is just show up weekly to their networking events and referral business to them will simply erupt regularly like this geyser. What they do not realize is that once their trust in you evaporates, so does the water. In referral marketing, your trust and your reputation are on the line all the time.  Therefore, you need to do what you say you are going to do. You need to be professional and do what you can to not ruin reputations with others.

When you give a referral, you give away a little bit of your reputation.

While giving a good referral will enhance your relationship, a bad referral will hurt it. This is extremely important when referring someone to your client or customer. If the person you referred does a poor job, your relationship with your client will suffer. You may even lose that customer due to the lack of trust they now have in you for giving them that bad referral. Now the geyser is dry.

Therefore, the biggest risk in referral marketing is not the person you are referring to someone. The biggest risks are the referral giver’s reputation and the risk to their business relationships with others. Get to know the people you are referring to others. Find out as much as you can about the services they offer. Plus, make sure they have integrity. If you do not take the time for this, your reputation is at risk. Finally, never give good referrals to people who do not want them or cannot handle them with the same integrity and professionalism you use with your clients. Do not be this guy. You do not want to refer someone to your client, and your client is expecting a geyser. However, the only result your client experiences is a dripping faucet in the middle of the night instead.

Everyone can Ruin Reputations

However, I am not saying that you accept 100% of the blame and responsibility for the bad referral. Referral marketing is more than just you. Everyone is involved in a threeway referral relationship. The person being referred to your client can do himself permanent damage by performing poorly or dishonestly. He agreed to a service contract or sales transaction with your client. What expectations has your client had in the past when working with you? You can share these same client expectations you experienced with the person you are referring to your client.

Even your client has some responsibility for the bad referral. Your client needs to clearly explain to you the exact service, product, or assistance they are looking to you to help them to find the right person to refer to them. Therefore, their expectation should be reasonable. If they are looking for a “small fountain” when discussing the possible referral with you, they should not be expecting a “large geyser” later on when working with the referral. However, they should also not be receiving a “little drip” either. Especially if they prepaid for the “fountain”.

Even Old Faithful is not as faithful as it used to be.

Tourists visit Yellowstone National Park in (mostly) Wyoming, USA every year to see the Old Faithful Geyser for its frequent and somewhat predictable eruptions. Rumors claimed that the eruptions occur hourly. People speak of the average time between eruptions. This is misleading and these rumors could ruin reputations with the tourists expecting to view the geyser based upon an exact schedule of when the geyser will erupt next. The mathematical average between eruptions of Old Faithful is currently 74 minutes, but it doesn’t like to act average! Intervals can range from 60-110 minutes. The world’s most famous geyser, Old Faithful in Yellowstone, currently erupts around 20 times a day. These eruptions are predicted with a 90 percent confidence rate, within a 10-minute variation. I do love a good statistical report to end a story.

LinkedIn

Stop! Don’t Pitch on LinkedInstring(31) "Stop! Don’t Pitch on LinkedIn"

Raise your hand if you’ve been cold-called on LinkedIn? OK, I can’t really see you but, I’m guessing most of you have.  I know I have.  It happens to me almost on a daily basis on LinkedIn. Let me give you a real-life example of a recent one. I recently accepted a request to connect with me on LinkedIn from a person who I’ll call Greg.

I’m calling him Greg because… well, that was his name.

When he sent the request, he wrote to me and said,

“I love connecting with founders of companies where we can share mutual connections.  Let’s connect and share insights if you’re open to it?”

I accepted. He wrote back.

Thanks for connecting with me Ivan, I appreciate it!  Anything exciting you’re working on at BNI? Let me know if I can be a resource to you in any way, and thanks again for connecting!

So far, so good.  This was a great start.  But wait… two days later (without waiting for my reply) he wrote his pitch:

Hi Ivan, We have developed a new generation project management tool that leverages artificial intelligence and that allows you to automate your teamwork and always know that you have the best organization in place. I’m sure it would be a great help for you and your teammates in BNI as we already have many clients from your industry using it. You can discover it here with this link if you are interested:  [I’m leaving it out to protect the guilty.] Hope you find it useful and I’d love to hear any feedback you have! All the best, Greg

OK, so now I knew he wasn’t really connecting to share insights.  He was connecting to pitch me.  I didn’t respond. He wrote again a few days later.  He said,

Hi Ivan, I hope you are doing well. I’m contacting you because I really need your help and have something great for you and your business in return. We are a young startup and have created a revolutionary intelligent project management tool that leverages artificial intelligence to automatically plan the work for you. There is no such product that exists today and the increase of performance that you can get with it is just mind-blowing. You can discover our software here: [Leaving out for the guilty again.] and I would be glad to exchange with you on the subject and show you how it works and how it can be a game-changer for your business. We will also offer you amazing pricing conditions as being part of our early adopters. I hope you can help me out and we will for sure over-deliver for you in return. Let’s talk? Best regards, Greg

I so did not respond to that. He wrote again a couple of days later.

Hi, Ivan Hope, you found our site valuable!   I’d love to share some insights with you over a quick call. When would you be available? Greg

I didn’t respond. The next day he wrote, Hey Ivan – making sure you saw my last message.  Any thoughts?

Yes, I had plenty of thoughts, none of which would be appropriate to share.  So, instead, I wrote back… No thanks.

He responded almost immediately, Hi Ivan. Thanks for the feedback.  For my personal knowledge, may I ask you why?

Hmm, I thought – does he really want to know why?  OK, I decided, I will tell him why. I wrote back.

Because you don’t really know what I do, you don’t know anything about me (other than what you’ve read), and we have no relationship (which, if you knew anything about me, you’d know is important).  This is a “cold-call” via LinkedIn and it is against everything I teach in my business.  This “pitch” is the very thing I write about NOT doing to people.  You asked and that is the unvarnished truth.

He replied almost immediately, Interesting. So how do I reach out to you?

I replied.

I do business by referral.  That takes time and effort.  I recognize that “cold-calling” does as well.  I just choose not to do business that way and it is a strategy that has worked well for me and most of the people who follow my work.

He replied almost immediately.

I get a lot of referrals. But right now I’m reaching out to people like you in a cold way because that’s the only way I can potentially get to talk to them. I was just asking for some help as a young and dynamic entrepreneur that has a really disrupting product. Remember how it was hard in the beginning…

I responded,

I do.  That’s how I learned that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.  It’s all about the relationships.  That’s how I built the business.  Reaching out “cold” is not the only way to talk to people.  It is the most expedient way to “feel” like you are doing something but not the only way to do it and I would argue – not the best way.  Those are my thoughts on the subject.  I need to run now. Use the advice, don’t use the advice, that is up to you. Good luck. Ivan

I also sent him a link about the VCP Process in networking.  I’ve never heard from him again.

Now, I don’t want to pick on LinkedIn.  It can happen on any social media platform.  It’s happened to me on Facebook, Twitter,  and even BNI Connect (I know – that one is really frustrating to see). This is not just a LinkedIn issue.  However, it does seem to happen a lot more there for me.  In either case, cold-calling is cold-calling no matter what form it takes.  But, it never hurts to ask, right?  Wrong.  Check out my video here to learn why: https://staging2.ivanmisner.com/never-hurts-ask-right/

Business Networking Diversity

Business Networking Diversitystring(29) "Business Networking Diversity"

I believe that it is important to build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people with different interests and backgrounds.  The only thing that they should have in common with you is that they should be really good at what they do.  Create a personal network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.

It is human nature to build friendships with people that are like us.  The problem with surrounding ourselves with similar people is that they also tend to have similar contacts and know the same people as us.  When networking, it may be difficult to make connections with new people or companies with whom we desire to do business. In running a large business networking organization for over the past three decades, I often speak to people who tell me they want to network exclusively business professionals who have similar clients.  Although it is good to include these people in your personal network, networking with them exclusively would be a tremendous mistake. When it comes to business networking diversity, you never know who people know.  One of the important keys to being successful at building a powerful personal network is diversity.

A diverse personal network enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors or “linchpins” in your network.  Linchpins are people who in some way cross over between two or more clusters or groups of individuals; this allows them to link groups of people together easily.  The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network. The strongest networking groups I have seen over the years are generally the groups that are diverse.  I believe that one of the problems in understanding this concept is a somewhat built-in bias that many people have about networking with individuals that are outside their normal frame of reference.  Let me share a story:

An incredible voice, an incredible connection from networking diversity.

Patti, a BNI Director, arrived a little early to a BNI meeting that met in a private meeting room and noticed an older gentleman setting up coffee mugs in preparation for the meeting.  She struck up a conversation with the man while waiting for the BNI members to arrive.  In talking to him, she was really taken by the amazing tenor of his voice.  She mentioned to him that he had an incredible voice and asked what he did before this.  The gentleman informed her that he used to be a commentator for CNN!  He went on to share with Patti that in his later years, he wanted to work in a less hectic job as well as live closer to his daughter.  He decided to take on the job of managing these private meeting rooms because it gave him an opportunity to be close to his family while having a less hectic career later in life.

Later during the meeting, one of the BNI members, Don, mentioned in his featured presentation that his goal is to host a radio talk show someday. He was looking for some contacts that could help him pursue this dream.  After the meeting, Patti asked Don… “Do you see that guy over there (pointing to the ex-CNN commentator)?  Have you seen him before?”  “Yea,” said Don, “he’s the guy who sets up the coffee for our meeting.”  Patti said to Don, “Did you know that he used to be a broadcaster for CNN?”  Don said, “I had no idea!!!”  Patti suggested that Don introduce himself. Don had seen the man on many occasions but had not struck up a conversation with him because he felt that they had little, if anything, in common.  The truth is when it comes to networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connector for you to a whole world of people that you might not otherwise be able to meet. This resulted in creating an incredible connection for Don in the broadcasting industry. Don now hosts a local radio talk show.

Diversity in your network is the smart thing and the right thing to do.

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