Are you Saying Too Much?string(24) "Are you Saying Too Much?"

I see so many professionals who try to tell everything they do in 30 seconds or less when talking about their business with potential referral sources. It goes by so quickly that the listeners miss most of it; many of them tune out after the first few items on the list. They are giving out lots of information without explanation and saying it way too fast. It’s like they are trying to get others to drink from a firehose and expecting them to absorb all of it. When you say too much, they hear nothing.

I encourage you to focus on one thing at a time from your areas of expertise. Remember, you are not marketing to your referral partners. Rather, you are training them on who and what is a good referral for you and your business. Your networking team is there to keep an eye out for your potential clients. When you “target talk”, that is, you explain exactly what type of customer you are looking for, the result will be better and more qualified referrals.

Specific is Terrific with LCDs

If you can break the description about your business down to its smallest components – very specific aspects about each of your products and services – and then focus on just one aspect of your business during your networking presentations, it works much better than providing a long laundry list of things you do or using a vague and meaningless term like “full-service.”

I call these your LCDs – Lowest Common Denominators. By using the LCDs when talking about your business, you will find that you become much more effective in training your referral partners. They will learn more about each thing you do and be able to recognize when they are in front of someone who really does need your services.

For instance, a residential real estate professional might give different presentations about first-time home buyers, townhomes, single-family-homes, investment properties, downsizing for empty-nesters, buying a larger home for a growing family, and so forth.

This skill set is especially productive when you are meeting weekly with a strong contact network such as BNI®. The difference between trying to say it all each week and focusing on one aspect of your business each week is huge! The impact that this will have on your referral sources is significant. As you discuss each LCD, share an example with a client story, things you can show and tell that will cement this part of your business in your referral sources’ minds.

When it comes to telling people about what you do, the deeper you go into the specifics the greater your success will be. Specific really is terrific – talk about ONE product or ONE service that you offer, and the benefit that it provides to the customer.

One of the Best Presentations I’ve Ever Seen

Many years ago, I visited a BNI chapter meeting where I witnessed one of the best presentations I’ve ever heard at a weekly networking meeting. The member who gave it was a florist who focused on the details of a single rose. Watch the video to hear the story of what the florist did and said that made his presentation so successful. You will learn why specificity is key in talking about exactly what it is that you do.

If you struggle to come up with talking points about your business at your weekly networking meetings, watch this video for ideas. I offer a simple strategy for pre-planning your presentation topics for an entire year. You will never again have to “wing it” for your presentations because of uncertainty in how to describe what you do.

Remember, focus on ONE aspect of your business at networking meetings to give your referral partners a clear understanding of how you can help the people that they know. Avoid saying too much if you want to be heard and remembered.

I’d love to hear how LCDs and specific presentations have worked for you. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks!

Want Business Referrals? Go Get Them!string(37) "Want Business Referrals? Go Get Them!"

Through all my years in business networking, the best referral efforts and results that I’ve seen have happened by design. It is intentional; it does not happen by accident or wishful thinking. It seems that many businesspeople view referral marketing somewhat like the weather: “Sure, it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Generating referrals through business networking efforts can be planned and nurtured.  Business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, employees, and even individuals who serve in a volunteer capacity can get results with a well-structured system – a referral plan for their business.

Too often, I have seen professionals waiting for business to come and walk through their door. They think because they are good at what they do, people will come flocking to them. Well, the truth is – it doesn’t work that way! You must take charge and bring the business in to you, no matter what your occupation or how good you are at what you do.

Think about someone who dreams of opening their own store. They have a business plan, they find their ideal location, they spend their time, money, and energy getting everything set up and preparing for the opening day and they are so excited when that day arrives! The lights go on, the door is unlocked, the sign says OPEN and…. people are just walking by. The line of customers they imagined never materializes. And then they realize – they have to get out there and meet the people who are their potential clients, and meet the people who know the people who could be their customers.

So it is with referral marketing. You can’t simply wait for people to come to you. If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals. How do you do that?

Find a business networking group in your area and visit one of their meetings. Make connections with other professionals who may have clients that need your products or services. Begin building relationships with like-minded people who want to grow their business AND help others do the same.

The bottom line is – don’t wait around. Do something! Develop a business networking plan that puts you in contact with the right people. Make your plan and then take action.  

 

 

 

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Art of building referral relationship

Building Referral Relationships: The Art of Patience and Persistencestring(68) "Building Referral Relationships: The Art of Patience and Persistence"

In the world of business, good referrals are akin to gold. They can open doors, create opportunities, and supercharge your professional network. However, the question that many professionals wonder is, “How long does it take to receive referrals from your network?” The answer is not as straightforward as you might think. Building referral relationships is a process that resembles the development of close personal friendships, and it takes time and effort. Let’s talk about the timeline for nurturing these valuable connections and I’ll share insights on how to expedite the process.

The Friendship Analogy

Strong referral relationships mirror the gradual progression of friendships. It is not about the quantity of contacts as much as it is the quality of the connections you establish. A 2018 study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships shed light on the timeline of friendships. It revealed that it takes roughly 50 hours of interaction to transform an acquaintance into a “casual friend.” To become “real friends,” individuals require a total of 90 hours, and to reach the status of “close friends,” the threshold is approximately 200 hours. According to the study, “friendship status was examined as a function of hours together, shared activities, and everyday talk.”

Building Trust for Referrals

Now, let’s translate this into the realm of business referrals. To receive referrals from your network, you need to cultivate trust and rapport with your referral partners. It’s a process that cannot be rushed. So, if you’re impatiently looking for immediate referrals, you might need to rethink your strategy. In most cases, it takes between 90 and 200 hours of meaningful interaction to foster the trust necessary for regular referrals.

I know that 90 to 200 hours may sound like a lot, however that is almost an exact match with what I’ve seen in BNI. When BNI members hit the 90-hour mark of participation they almost always begin receiving more and more referrals. Based on an independent study published in 2012 for BNI, when those same individuals cross the 200-hour mark, they generate an average of over five times the number of referrals they did in their first year! Yes, you read that right: more than 500% more referrals when they have built strong relationships with their referral partners.

Steps to Accelerate Referral Success

Building a referral-based business is a deliberate process that involves nurturing meaningful relationships. To expedite this journey and start receiving referrals sooner, ask yourself the following four crucial questions:

  1. Am I Building Relationships?
    Are you actively engaging with your referral partners and investing time in getting to know them? Building trust is a two-way street, and your effort will be reciprocated.
  2. Am I Demonstrating Value?
    Regularly make stimulating, educational presentations to your network about the value you provide to your clients. This showcases your expertise and reinforces your credibility.
  3. Am I Giving Back?
    Engage in business transactions within your network, allowing you to give dynamic testimonials and direct business to others. This reciprocity is often rewarded with referrals in return.
  4. Am I Staying Informed?
    Maintain regular meetings with your networking colleagues to learn about, and stay current on, their businesses. This knowledge will enable you to confidently refer your contacts to them, strengthening the bond.

The Depth of Relationships

Building a referral-based business is all about building a powerful, personal network. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you will never get the kind of referrals that will make a difference for your business. When you follow these simple tactics and focus on developing strong relationships that are built on trust and mutual support, you are on your way to getting referrals.

 The journey to receiving referrals from your network is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. The best way to speed up the process is to spend time in the process of developing relationships with the people you are networking with. By following the steps outlined, you can accelerate the timeline for receiving referrals. Remember, networking is about farming, not hunting. It’s about nurturing relationships and friendships with other professionals. So, be patient, be persistent, and in due time, your network will become a valuable source of referrals that can transform your business.

 

 

 

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Surrounding yourself with quality business professionals

Surround Yourself with Quality Business Professionalsstring(53) "Surround Yourself with Quality Business Professionals"

One of the biggest networking mistakes you can make is to dismiss someone too early, to assume that they have nothing to offer you because of their profession, their background, or some other reason, and you don’t pursue the relationship because of that assumption. Unfortunately, I’ve seen this happen a lot.

Well, the truth is you simply never know where your next great referral is going to come from. Which is why successful networkers make it a point to consistently connect with high-quality professionals from all fields, from any, and every, background.

Many times, I hear BNI members say, “I want to network with the CEO.” or “I want to network with the vice president.” Forget about trying to contact the VPs and high-level executives – they don’t want to hear another sales pitch.

You Don’t Know Who They Know

An important thing for all of us to remember about business networking is that any professional who is good at what he or she does will be well-connected to other highly successful businesspeople.

When I lived in southern California, I had a painting contractor whose services we used regularly. Through his work he came to know A-list Hollywood celebrities, among many other affluent people. He was one of the most connected people I knew at the time.

I have a favorite story, which I think illustrates this point perfectly. In this case, a multimillion-dollar referral (one of the biggest I had seen in BNI up to that point) was given by a dentist in Malaysia. She briefly shut down her practice to attend a networking conference in her area. There were opportunities for people to talk and exchange business, to make new friends and immerse themselves in an intense learning experience. She met one of the sponsors of the event, a BNI member from the United Kingdom, who was in the cargo transportation industry.

When she reopened her office a few days later, one of her clients asked her about the conference. This client was in a company that had a $1.5 billion USD shipping budget, and they were looking to streamline their operations, and he shared that he was ready to talk to other companies. The dentist said, “I have just the person for you.” She referred him to the conference sponsor she had recently met and the next day that sponsor in the UK got a phone call to set up an appointment with this gentleman, her client in Malaysia.

The result is that a dentist in a networking organization attended a networking conference, and participated in the conference, meeting new people and learning about their businesses. As a result, she was able to connect her client with someone she’d met at that conference–which led to the multimillion-dollar referral.

To me, it’s a classic example showing that it is really about the quality of business professionals that you’re networking with. They meet people who are decision makers. They get to know people who know people who are decision makers. And sometimes, they have them in the dental chair of their office. You don’t know who they know. And without investing your time to build business relationships with them, you won’t ever know.

The key element with effective networking groups is that it’s not just the businesses of your fellow members in the group. It is also about the people that those members know and are connected to. You just never know who you are going to meet and who your referral partners will have in their office, or whose home they are in, or who is sitting in the chair at their business.

You create opportunities for some great referrals when you surround yourself with quality business professionals. Do you have a story about a referral that came from an unusual source? I’d love to hear about it.

Successful Networking In Business

Successful Business Networkingstring(30) "Successful Business Networking"

Let’s talk about the word “networking”. It has become so overused that some business professionals can no longer define it. Many people think that networking is only about going to social mixers or after-work business events, where they shake a few hands, collect some new business cards, and, of course, give away some cards of their own. Sadly, they truly believe that’s all there is to networking. To be fair, we could say that they are engaging in social networking. However, that type of activity should never be confused with business networking.

As the Founder & Chief Visionary officer of BNI® I have seen the definition of business networking change and evolve over the past 38 years. This is my definition of networking:
“Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, and expand your sphere of influence or serve the community.”

Notice the key word is relationships.

Successful networking of any kind starts with the genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. If someone is only networking to gain and not to give, they will never be successful.

Building Relationships should be one of the most important components of your business. And the best way to do that is by FARMING not by hunting. It is all about cultivating relationships – taking the time and giving the energy to help them grow and flourish. Think like a good farmer does: they know when to tend to their crops and when to harvest them. If you over pick or try to harvest too soon, you’ll be left with nothing. However, if you continue to care for and maintain your crops (and your business relationships), they will grow abundantly and provide bountiful results for you.

Business professionals who are the farming type of networkers go to networking events because of the opportunities to meet new people. They do not use those events as face-to-face cold calling opportunities. They understand the importance of meeting someone and then building a relationship with them. They go well beyond the ‘hunting’ style of meeting people, which is simply adding another name to their contact list.

Build Deep Relationships

I’ve said this for years: If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it is not powerful. To maximize your business relationships, you need to go beyond knowing someone’s name, their job, and where they work.  A deep network contains the contacts that you know much more about, and those who usually know much more about you. You want to find out about their family, their interests, their hobbies, their goals. That is how you build a strong, deep network.

Social capital is also an important component of building strong relationships. Social capital is like financial capital. In order to amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You need to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal. Relationships are very much the same, particularly referral relationships. You must support and help others with their business before you can ask for their help.

Two Views of Business Networking

I have found that businesspeople tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to their views about networking. For many people, the current mind-set is that networking is a passive business strategy, rather than a proactive marketing tool. This attitude results in a scattered and often ineffective networking approach that consequently wastes the businessperson’s time, and their money. It’s no surprise that when people feel they’ve been wasting their time and money on something, they are understandably not going to want to continue that activity.

On the other hand, some professionals do consider networking a proactive marketing tool for their business. How can you tell? They make it a significant part of their marketing and business plans. They have networking goals. They may even include a budget line item for networking. Most importantly, they practice it and live it every day. They realize that their networking team is there to keep an eye out for potential customers for them. When you “target talk”, that is, when you hone in on exactly what type of client you are looking for, the result will be better, more qualified referrals from your networking partners.

When you have a proactive mindset and attitude about networking, and you focus on building strong, mutually beneficial relationships with like-minded people, you will be well on your way to successful business networking.

 

 

 

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How to avoid assumptions in business networking

Avoid Assumptionsstring(17) "Avoid Assumptions"

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

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

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

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

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

The Power of Educating Others

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Educate Others

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

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

 

 

 

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Why Teach Your Employees to Network?string(36) "Why Teach Your Employees to Network?"

Once while traveling to a book tour date, I sat next to a young man in an airport who struck up a conversation with me. We started talking about what we each did for a living and after explaining what I do, I found out that he worked for a small, family-owned grocery business. I commented that it was probably tough to be the little guy in competition with the larger chain grocery stores and that his employer must be doing something right to still be in business.  

Now, being in the business of networking for 20+ years at that time, it was a no-brainer to me that my comments and inquiries about the young man’s employer were a prime opportunity for him to explain what made his company special and to possibly make a valuable networking connection that could bring in business, and maybe even mean a promotion for him. 

However, instead of taking advantage of the open door I was extending to him with my curiosity, he just shrugged his shoulders and said, “Yeah, we’ve had the same customers for years, so I guess we’re just lucky that they are so loyal.” 

That conversation reminds me of how critically important it is to teach your employees to network! Many business people just don’t do this one simple thing which could dramatically boost their networking efforts. It doesn’t matter how much you – the manager or business owner, may know about networking, or even how well you network to promote your business. You don’t know what you could be missing out on if your employees were trained to network for you. 

The fact is that until you teach someone how to do something effectively, expecting them to do it well, or even to do it at all, is unrealistic. 

As you might imagine, it is far better to engage your entire staff or team in your referral marketing campaign when you start it, but also throughout the life of your business. When you show employees how to properly network, they are much more likely to network and talk about your products and services, providing your organization with a greater chance of gaining more business. 

Here are some ideas to help your staff learn about business networking

  • You can do a short demonstration during a team meeting where you role-play ways to ask for referrals from customers, friends, and family. “Do you have a friend or neighbor who may also need our _____ service?”
     
  • If you belong to a weekly networking group like BNI®, bring your staff to those meetings, one at a time, so each team member can experience business networking and see the results it can produce. This also helps your networking partners feel that they know your business better, since they are able to meet the people in your company.  

Networking is a group activity, so make sure to get your whole team on board with the process. Tell them WHY networking is important and teach them how to do it. You may find that it builds employee loyalty and pride in their job as they get to contribute to the success of the business in additional ways.  

Have you done something to get your employees involved in networking your business? I’d love to hear about it. 

The Importance of One-to-One Meetings with Referral Partnersstring(60) "The Importance of One-to-One Meetings with Referral Partners"

For years I’ve said that successful business networking is about building relationships with the people in your network. In addition to attending regular networking group meetings, it is imperative that you have one-to-one meetings with your fellow members outside of the group meetings.

This allows you to get a deeper understanding about their business, their products and services, their customers, and learn how you can refer them to people you know. It is also a way for them to do the same for you.

However, some people decline to have one-to-one meetings with their networking partners. I had a conversation with Tiffanie Kellog, BNI regional Training Team Coordinator in West Central Florida, USA, and we discussed the question: When is it okay to say no to a one-to-one?

Well, the answer is: NEVER. It’s never okay to say no to a one-to-one; that is, if you still want to generate referrals from that member.

What is the Purpose of a One-to-One?

The goal is to build relationships with our networking partners — to move through the VCP Process®, going from visibility, to credibility, to profitability. If we say no to a one-to-one meeting, if we’re too busy for our fellow members, then it is stopping the relationship. Think about it – if you’re too busy for a one-to-one, how are you going to have time to take care of the referrals I want to give to you?

And you never know what can come from a one-to-one meeting, even if you don’t think that person has much to contribute to you. I once went to a business meeting and sat next to a college student. I first thought, “Geez, what am I doing, sitting next to this college student? There are all these businesspeople that I want to sit next to.” And I thought to myself, okay, buck-up buttercup. You’re an expert on networking, network with this student. So I asked her lots of questions and got her to open up.

And guess what happened. After the meeting, one of the business associates came up to me and said, “Thank you.” I said, “Why?” He said, “Nobody ever talks to my daughter like that. They all want to sit next to the businesspeople. But you got her to open up and I really appreciate what you did at dinner.” I ended up making a good connection with the father, and I hardly talked to him at all. You never know where a one-to-one can lead.

Tips to Make it Easier to Say “Yes” to a 1-2-1

  • Schedule well in advance. Find a date that is convenient for both of you. One-to-one meetings are always more successful when both members have time to prepare.
  • Schedule outside your busiest season. We all understand that certain times of year are busier for some professions, such as accountants during tax time and retail store owners during holiday season. People appreciate when we respect their time restraints.
  • Have a purpose and format for the meeting. You can ask: What is the intention for the meeting? What are we looking to accomplish? Utilizing the G.A.I.N.S. exchange is a very powerful format for a first time one-to-one with a networking partner.
  • Stack multiple one-to-one meetings on the same day at the same location. This saves you time traveling to multiple locations on different days. You can also schedule virtual meetings back-to-back. Pick one or two days a week and block off time for meetings with your referral partners.
  • When someone asks you for a meeting, it’s okay to ask what they want to talk about and how long they think it will take. Having an agenda can help you decide how soon you want to schedule the meeting, and whether you need a one-to-one or just a quick conversation.


Business networking is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships.  Investing the time and effort into getting to know your networking members through productive, referral generating one-to-one meetings is the key to networking success.

Business Networking and Friendsstring(31) "Business Networking and Friends"

I have found that one of the strengths of a good networking group is that most of the members become friends. Ironically, one of the weaknesses in networking groups is that most of the members become friends. Yes, it’s both a strength and a weakness. Accountability is crucial in running a good network because friends don’t like to hold friends accountable. I have also found that people who truly understand business networking recognize the need to have a system and structure to get results.

It can be dangerously easy for a networking group that meets regularly to become a talk session over coffee with little or no networking taking place. That is what happens when the group loses sight of their purpose, their focus, system, and structure – or it happens if they never had any of those things to begin with.

Often, people begin to make up their own agendas and they lose their focus on networking. When you lose focus, the meetings become social. Networking should be about business. Of course, there will be a social aspect, but it’s mainly about business, commitment, and accountability.

Leadership and Teaching

People can be like water – taking the path of least resistance. Without the proper framework in which to operate, the agenda might become the current topic of the day’s news, or it ends up being whatever the person running the group thinks the meeting should be from their own personal perspective. Inconsistency like that, over time, is a problem for a networking group.

Even if the group has a good, strong leader, that person’s life will change at some point or maybe they will simply get burned out. The problem starts if there is nobody else to teach. Teaching is a leaky-bucket process. You begin with a full bucket of information. When that information is taught to someone else, some of it leaks out of the bucket and the people being taught get a limited version of the information. Then, when that person teaches someone else, the material continues to get watered down based on their personal understanding and their ability to articulate the material.

By the time you are in the third or fourth generation of people passing along the information, you only have about half a bucket remaining. When the bucket of information gets low, people start putting in their own content. The problem is that it might not be good content. I’ve seen this time and time again. By the way, very rarely does the material improve over time with the leaky bucket process.

I learned early on that the best solution is to write everything down to develop “train the trainer” material so there is consistency in the system and the way the training is conducted. Making the leadership training part of a replicable system is the best way to fill the leaks and have good leaders for the organization.

I think it is a beautiful thing when people in a networking group become close friends. The key is to make sure it doesn’t detract from the group’s goal of building each other’s business through networking and referrals.

It is important for ALL networking groups to ensure that there is a strong sense of purpose with a solid structure, and that each member is committed to carrying out the systems for networking which are already in place. This will ensure that members agree to be accountable with their business networking friends.

How does your networking group maintain its focus and commitment to systematic networking practices? I’d love to hear your thoughts – leave a comment below.  

Business Networking and the Solar Systemstring(40) "Business Networking and the Solar System"

During a hike on my recent trip to Necker Island, my friend, Mike Macedonio, and I had a great conversation about comparing the hiking trail to the solar system.
I invite you to watch this short video to learn more.

 

It reminded me that business networking is a journey and it’s all about relationships. Remember, networking is a marathon, not a sprint.

I was a Lollipop Entrepreneurstring(29) "I was a Lollipop Entrepreneur"

It is extremely valuable to understand your behavioral style and how it relates to your business networking.  Most importantly, learning how to identify behavioral styles in others, and then learning how to adapt your own approach to those different styles, can make a significant difference in your referability.

I wrote about this in my book, “Room Full of Referrals,” with co-authors Dr. Tony Alessandra and Dawn Lyons. All customers and all networkers prefer communication in a manner that is most familiar to them. Knowing their personal style can help you customize an effective sales or networking approach for each unique individual.

Dr. Tony Alessandra calls this The Platinum Rule – the idea of treating people the way they want to be treated.

The Four Common Behavioral Styles

  • Go-Getter: Fast-paced, task-oriented, & doesn’t like to be wrong about anything.
                      Driven, Bold, Decisive, Strong Desire to Lead
  • Promoter: Fast-paced, people-oriented, gregarious, likes to be in the spotlight.     
                      Energetic, Outgoing, Fun-Loving, Positive, Talkative
  • Nurturer: Slower-paced, people-oriented, dislikes confrontation, & helps others.
                      Patient, Helpful, Understanding, Reserved
  • Examiner: Slower-paced, task-oriented, methodical, likes facts, & dislikes hype.
                      Effective, Efficient, Thorough, Research-Oriented

A key point to remember is that we are all a blend of the four styles with different intensity levels of each.

My Style

Oftentimes your behavioral style can be observed at a fairly young age.  When I was 11 years old, I missed the bus going to school one day. The school was about two miles away and I had plenty of time, so I started walking.

Along the way I passed a fuel station with a small store attached to it. My eye caught some awesome looking lollipops – big, red, strawberry-flavored suckers. They only cost a nickel (five pennies) so I bought four or five of them and continued on to school. When I got there, a friend saw what I had and asked me if he could buy one. I said sure he could – for a dime (ten pennies). He bought it right away! That day I sold all the lollipops except for the one that I kept for myself . . . and I saw a great business opportunity.

The next day I decided to walk to school again, and this time I bought a dozen lollipops at the store. I sold them all before school was done for the day. I did this the next day, and the next… for almost a month. I was very happy with my margin and the money that I saw growing from my lollipop enterprise.

That was my first experience in business, and it was obvious from that early time in my life that I was a “Go-Getter” behavioral style. 

The end of the story had another lesson in store.  After a month of great sales, the Principal called me into his office and told me I couldn’t sell candy to students on campus.  I asked him why and he said it was a school policy.  Then I asked him why it was OK to sell candy bars for the school fundraiser on campus but not sell other candy for any other reason.  He basically told me that was the policy and I could follow it or be suspended.  Thus, the last lesson I learned was about government regulation.  The next business I started was NOT on campus.

 

Do you recall your first business experience? How has your own behavioral style helped or hurt your networking and referral marketing efforts?  I’d love to hear your story.

The Best Way to End a Conversationstring(34) "The Best Way to End a Conversation"

We’ve all been at business networking events where a conversation with someone takes much longer than we expected (or wanted). I am often asked about the best way to end a conversation in a networking situation. My answer is a simple solution with some easy options.   

  1. You can say, “It was really nice meeting you. May I have your card so I have your contact information? Thanks.” That’s it. There is no need to apologize because you want to go and continue networking, and you absolutely don’t want to say that you just saw someone else you need to talk to. You simply thank them after you get
    their business card, end the conversation, and move on.


  2. An option is to tell them what you liked about the conversation that you had together, or recap something from the conversation that you found interesting and then say the same thing from #1, “It was really nice meeting you. May I have your card so I can have your contact information? Thanks.”
  3. If they say something during your conversation that makes you think of somebody you know who could be beneficial for them to meet, tell them about that person and offer to make an introduction. Then be sure to follow-up and do it! If the other person is also attending the event, you can make the introduction right then and there. It is always a good thing to be a “connector” at a networking event. Once those two are connected and in their own conversation, you can go network with others at the event.
  4. One more option is: You may want to invite them to be your guest at another networking meeting that you regularly attend, such as your BNI® chapter meeting. This is a great opportunity to connect them to another network of professionals. It is also a good way for the two of you to meet again and continue to get to know one other.

What about “Exit Lines”?

Some people want more ways to end a conversation. There are many “exit lines” out there and I’ve seen a lot of them. I strongly recommend that you do not use them unless they are absolutely true. I offer three efficient exit lines that work whether you’re ready to wrap it up immediately or you have time for courtesies.

Remember to keep it simple and keep it honest. 

  • I have to be home by “x” o’clock to have dinner with my family.
  • I have a deadline on a project, and I need to leave now.
  • It’s been nice to meet you, however, I need to go to the washroom.

You can use anything that is similar to these three suggestions, as long as it is true. If you really have to leave the event to do something, tell them so. And then leave the event.

Otherwise, you can simply use the solution in #1 above. It is an effective way to end a conversation without offending anyone at your networking events.

Follow-up Is Key

What you do AFTER you meet someone at a networking event is just as important as the initial conversation you have with them. I recommend the 24/7/30 Follow-up System:
Drop them a note, text, or email within 24 hours.
Connect with them on social media within 7 days.
Reach out to them within 30 days to set up a one-to-one meeting.
This approach helps you establish a powerful routine to make your networking efforts more meaningful and successful.


When it comes to ending a conversation at a networking event, remember that you don’t need to overthink it. Keep it simple. Be polite, friendly, and honest. Don’t make excuses and respectfully move on from the conversation. And of course, be timely and professional with your follow-up.

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