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)]
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 your “Emotional Intelligence” also known as “Emotional Quotient” or “EQ” is extremely important right now. Emotional Intelligence is the ability we have to manage our relationships with other people. EQ is the skill we developed as business owners before the pandemic to network with others face-to-face and build our “social capital”.
However, physical isolation and working from home has led to changing the way we are networking these days. We currently cannot network in person nor meet with clients at our places of business. Instead, our networking is online and our businesses are virtual. Therefore, managing our relationships with other people by building a high-EQ is even more important than ever.
The higher your Emotional Intelligence is, the more natural your ability to network will be. You can improve your EQ by understanding and applying some important online networking concepts.
Develop a dynamic online networking style
Networking is so much more than attending the typical face-to-face meet-n-greet routine events. These days, we are not attending face-to-face events; we are networking online and by telephone. Therefore, your networking style needs to also change to maintain your social capital. Developing an online networking style that is deliberate, dynamic, and habitual will help you to build higher Emotional Intelligence.
This can be done while working from home by reading books and other internet articles about online marketing and learning from others their techniques for applying your previous word-of-mouth networking skills to networking online. Adapting your networking skills will take conscious practice and application before they become habits. Build a high-EQ by creating a dynamic plan to network online these days.
Network online appropriately
Be sensitive to the fact that we are all in this together when building your online networking style. Businesses not used to networking online promote their company with an almost vulture-like intensity. They flood social media with direct sales ads and posts about their business to people they hardly know. This will result in lowering your Emotional Intelligence. Furthermore, the business world has changed and networking has adapted to a virtual market. We are no longer able to attend face-to-face networking events to pass out our business cards, obtain transactional leads, and ask someone the ubiquitous “what do you do?”. Instead, we need to post regularly on our social media pages, build our relationships with others, pass referrals, and ask others “How can I help?” Understanding how to network appropriately online is another sign of a high-EQ networker.
Stay connected and follow-up with others
Picking up the phone and staying connected with clients, customers, and colleagues is an area where the high Emotional Intelligence networker excels. A skillful online networker will never miss an opportunity to follow-up after an introduction to a new business contact. I recommend that you write testimonials on the social media business pages for your referral partners. Plus, reach out and do the same for those businesses you have used both personally and professionally over the years. Leave a comment on a few of their social media posts too. I also recommend that you request your clients, customers, and colleagues to write testimonials and reviews on your social media pages too. Now is a great time to create a newsletter that you can email to all your clients about the current changes to your business, special promotions, how you are helping others, and include the URL links to all your social media pages. Ask them to like and follow each of your pages in addition to a request for testimonials from them about your business.
Following up with others on referrals (received & given) is not our favorite thing, but it is something that needs a lot of finesse and demands diligence. Pick up the phone and call. Many business people are working from home alone and do not have other people to talk to. Keeping your name, your business’s name and your expertise in front of others is very important these days. And it’s important to follow up more than once. High-EQ networkers use their telephones, social media pages and emails to network online and re-connect with each other often to build a strong long-lasting relationship.
Maintain customer loyalty
Many entrepreneurs focus so much on bringing in new business that they miss the boat on maintaining customer loyalty with gratitude. Keeping current customers coming back and referring others to you is important for business success and growth! The entrepreneur who understands this makes their customers feel valued and appreciated. They will come back and refer others to you, even if you are working from home. Becoming friends with each person with whom you do business is an indicator of a high-EQ networker.
Business owners will be referred to and promoted by others because of Emotional Intelligence and their ability to develop social capital. With online networking these days, high-EQ networkers can maintain a strong word-of-mouth based business.
In my book, “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect”, I talk about my ECC: Emotionally Charged Connection. We all have an ECC. It was something that happened to you generally as a child that lays the groundwork for who you are as a person. It can be positive or it can be negative.
Many people are not conscious of their Emotionally Charged Connection, yet it’s the reason we get up in the morning and do the things we do every day. It’s driven by the heart, not the checkbook or the head–there’s a big difference. Once you become conscious of this connection, you are able to understand and more effectively apply it.
Gladstone High School
My ECC resulted in my desire to help others to succeed. I cannot make you successful. I always lost when I ran for student council. As a freshman at Gladstone High School, Mr. Romero, my freshman high school history teacher, picked me for the student council. “Oh no, not Ivan. Anybody but Ivan”. I do not know what he saw in me but I am going to do whatever I need to do to make him proud. He saw something and helped me to succeed. I’m doing the same thing now. I had a handful of teachers that saw something in me and supported me. We all have something like this that helped guide a chapter in our life that will influence our future.
Your “why”–the Emotionally Charged Connection you have with your work–is the most important thing you can figure out about your business. If you don’t know why you do what you do, you’ll never fulfill your professional dreams.
A contact sphere is a group of business professionals who have a symbiotic relationship. They are compatible, non-competitive professions. Contact spheres are a broad list of professions that could work well with you. While your Power Team is only those that you are actively working with. Hence, the power team working that symbiotic relationship created in the contact sphere.
My favorite example of a contact sphere is the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the videographer, hairstylist, makeup artist, and the travel agent. I call this the “wedding mafia”! If one gets a referral to a wedding, then they all get a referral to the wedding. These professions, more than most, have truly learned how to work their contact sphere. A contact sphere can be a steady source of leads. Each has clients who can benefit from the services of the others. This is why a wedding often turns out to be, on the side, a business networking and referral-gathering activity.
To get the most out of your contact sphere:
Identify as many professions as possible that fit within your company’s contact sphere. Take a look at what professions your industry tends to work with to get an idea of repetitive and reciprocal referrals. Create a list of these professions.
Identify specific individuals who could fit into your contact sphere. Go to various networking groups and consult your business card file and database.
Invite these people to participate in networking groups with you so you can formalize your relationship and have a way to stay in regular contact. Maintaining a relationship is key. A good way to do that is to participate in groups that put you together on a regular basis.
Evaluate the professionals in your contact sphere that you are presently referring to. If they are not reciprocating, you may have the wrong profession or the wrong person. Fill the spot with someone who is willing to reciprocate.
Although developing a solid contact sphere will greatly increase your business, you must remember that it alone is not enough. Because contact spheres consist of small groups, you’re not likely to gain exposure to a large number of individuals. Hence, work on developing your overall network of contacts at the same time you are developing your contact sphere. Good luck. Contact spheres are a great way to start building your professional network.
“Hi Ivan – How are you? With BNI at 250,000 members in 70+ countries according to Dunbar we are all 1 degree of social connection from 38 million people, and 2 degrees from 5.6 Billion people (or about 3/4 of the worlds population). Dunbar says 150 people each so 250,000 x 150 x 150 = 5.6 billion people. Is this correct?”
I received this question in my inbox and it is a very reasonable “Ask Ivan” question. From a purely mathematical perspective it sounds true. However, the short answer is, “sorry, no.”
The idea that 5.6 billion people are ALL connected by six people is a myth.
Here’s why. The Dunbar Number is a sociological equation not a pure mathematical equation. For example, if you use pure math you must assume that there is no overlap between the 150 people you know and the 150 people I know. However, we both have many of the same 150 people in our own personal sphere (hence the sociological equation vs. a pure mathematical equation). In addition, don’t forget that Stanley Milgram’s “Six Degrees” is actually a fallacy. Check out this short video as to why:
Sorry. I don’t mean to be a “kill-joy.” It was a good question. Maybe the best question I’ve had in a long time. I like the way you think. I highly recommend for everyone to please continue to send me your questions and I will attempt to answer as many as possible.
What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and “six degrees of separation” all have in common? They are all urban legends! Time to put the kids to bed. I don’t want to stir up any trouble with Christmas around the corner. What I do want to take issue with is the six-degrees thing.
You’ve heard that there are “six degrees of separation” between you and anybody else on earth that you would like to meet. Right? Amazing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s just not true! Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the idea that we are all connected through six degrees of separation is rooted in myth–not in fact.
The legend originally stems from several “small world experiments” conducted in the late ’60s by social psychologist Stanley Milgram, who asked participants in Nebraska to send a parcel across the United States to a stranger in Boston via people they knew. These experiments involved sending letters from a group of people to a specific person in another part of the country. The people were told to get the material to someone who might know someone who would know the individual to whom the material was to be delivered. This process formed a chain of connections linking the people together. It was, in fact, found that the letters that arrived in the right person’s hands took, on average, between five and six connections. Milgram found that there tended to be about six degrees of separation between the senders in Nebraska and the recipient in Boston. This part is true; however, if you look closer, you will discover the problems that exist within the blanket statement that “we are all connected by six degrees.”
First off, though the average number of links for people who got the material through to the final contact was five or six connections, the majority of the connections that were made ranged from two to 10 (the average was five to six). This means that roughly half took more than six and roughly half less than six. Well, you say, that’s the average and I would agree that there’s nothing wrong with addressing this concept by the average, but there’s one small problem. The overwhelming majority of people in all of Milgram’s studies never got the material to the intended recipient at all! In Milgram’s most successful study, “217 chains were started and 64 were completed–a success rate of only 29 percent.”
That’s right–a success rate of less than one-third of the participants! So what this means is that 29 percent of the people in Milgram’s most successful study were separated on average by six degrees from the final contact person. However, that means that 71 percent were not connected at all!
But wait, I’m afraid it gets worse. This was Milgram’s most successful study. In another of his studies, only 5 percent of the participants completed the chain. Therefore, 95 percent of the people in the study never made the link to the person they were supposed to connect to at all–ever! Don’t shoot the messenger, but I am afraid to tell you that we are not “all” connected with everyone in the world by six degrees of separation. We’re just not . . . not all of us.
So why would I, someone who has devoted most of his professional career to business networking, be telling everyone about the Achilles heel of this iconic concept upon which a lot of networking pros hang their hat? Well, there are two reasons. First of all, I believe this myth creates complacency. The thought that everyone is absolutely connected to everyone else on the planet by six degrees gives some people a false sense of expectation and thus lulls them into a sense that the connection is bound to happen sooner or later, no matter what they do. Second, and most important, the studies’ findings indicate clearly that some people are better connected than others. I believe that’s important because it means that this is a skill that can be acquired. With reading, training, and coaching, people can develop their networking skills, increase their connections and become connected.
29 percent of people who are, in fact, separated from the rest of the world by only six degrees.
Milgram’s work was revolutionary. It opened up a whole new world of discussion and understanding. It has, however, been romanticized. The mythical version of his findings does no good for anyone. It gives people a false sense of security or an erroneous worldview of the networking process. I believe we do live in a “small world” that is becoming smaller and smaller; and I also believe it is possible to be connected to anyone in the world by only six degrees. I just don’t believe that “we are all” connected by six degrees, and Milgram’s own findings support that.
The good news in all of this is that it is possible to be part of the 29 percent through education, practice, and training. We can be connected to anyone through the power, and potential of networking. In fact, by understanding that, we can set ourselves aside from our competition by knowing that being able to make successful connections is not an entitlement. Instead, it is a skill that only some actually develop. As for the 71 percent of people who are not connected and yet still believe in the six degrees of separation concept–keep the faith.
It’s fascinating how information can get distorted in the minds of the public and turn into urban myths. Just think about the myths: Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny. What does this teach us about business networking? The answer is this: To become a successful networker, it’s critical to be a part of the minority of people who truly are well-connected. One final thought for your kids, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus”
People all around the world believe in these myths.
However, being connected by six degrees of people is an urban legend. Please watch this video to learn the problems that exist with the belief that we are ALL connected by six people. It is true that the average number of those that made connections was 6 people. However, the overwhelming majority of people in Milgam’s study never reached the intended person. We are not all connected by six people around the world
This myth creates a complatency. Some people are better connected than others. That is imporant because that means that this is an acquired skill. These skills can improve with reading and coaching. It is possible to be connected to anyone with the power of networking.
The more people you meet at an event, the more successful your networking efforts are–and that’s simply not the case. Instead, the quality of the connections you form is much more significant than the quantity of connections you make.
A few years ago, I had a long conversation with a good friend who was considered a networking expert in Europe. He did a lot of work with online networking or social networking. During this conversation, we got into a fundamental disagreement on the subject. He believed that networking was first and foremost a numbers game. He said that “the more people you were connected to the stronger your network.” At first, I went along with this comment agreeing that the number of people in your network was in fact, very important. I then said, “the only thing more important than the quantity of people was the quality of people in your network.” Suddenly, our paths diverged. He said the “quality of people in your network are really not that important, instead it is all a numbers game.”
To this day, I steadfastly disagree. Networking is not a numbers game. It’s more like a people puzzle. It’s about building relationships with the close people in your network. That means that it’s about finding ways to interconnect the relationships you have to build a powerful personal network. In order to do that – you actually have to have a fair number of quality relationships in that sea of contacts.
If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful.
Instead, your network needs to be both wide and – in places, deep. That is, you need to have a wide set of contacts but some of those need to be connections that go deep. Therefore, the quality of your network is just as important, if not more important than the quantity of your network. This doesn’t mean that quantity isn’t important. It is important. The thing is that a small network of quality people limits your success. However, a large network with multiple quality relationships makes for a much more powerful, personal network.
It is a little like your left hand and your right hand. Both are really important. But one is generally stronger, more powerful, and generally used more than the other. You can’t accomplish what you want as easily without both. However, one is the stronger hand. This is similar to the quantity vs. quality argument in networking.
I believe that it is NOT, what you know, or who you know – it’s how well you know each other that counts.
Strong relationships take simple “contacts” and turn them into powerful “connections.” It doesn’t really matter if I have an amazing database of people with many phone numbers. What really matters is if I can pick up the phone and ask some of them for a favor and they take my call then are willing to do that favor.
By the way, since that argument a few years ago, my friend is no longer in the networking business. Quantity is good but quality truly is King.
Tiffanie Kellog, trainer for Asentiv Florida, is joined by Shawn Yesner, owner of Yesner Law and podcaster – Crushing Debt, as they explore a method that can be used to introduce others to prospects and/or referral sources.
Learn about the “Reservation for 2, Table for 4” in this video.
Are you taking advantage of the holiday season when it comes to marketing your business? You should be! Festive posts really attract audiences who are feeling sentimental or those who are looking for some services specifically around the holidays.
Years ago, I was relaxing on Necker Island in the Caribbean where I was meeting with about 20 business leaders including Sir Richard Branson the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways and owner of the Island.
My journey to this island is a dramatic example of “The Butterfly Effect of Networking”, a theory that a small action in one place may have a ripple effect that creates a dramatic action in another place. It is like a pebble in a pond creating ripples on the surface. For networking, it is about how a seemingly minor connection or conversation with one person may, after many ripples across the network over time, ends in a dramatic connection later in the process. Let me share my story…
People often ask me, “how can I stay in touch with people or get back in touch with people that I haven’t seen or spoken with recently?”
Start by making a commitment to improving this area. There’s a great Chinese proverb that I really like – “When’s the best time to plant an Oak tree? The answer is – 20 years ago. When’s the second best time – now!”
So, here are 4 strategies that will help you improve in this area. If you can’t do them all – do what works for you.
Sort through your list of people. You can’t stay in touch with everyone. Who do you want to make sure to stay connected with and why? It could be personal, it could be professional, but create a list that you want to focus on.
Use the system they use! It doesn’t have to be Facebook or LinkedIn – use Pinterest or other programs, Snapchat, What’s App – whatever they use. Each of my children uses different systems. If I want to connect with them – I need to go where they are. For my oldest daughter, it’s texting or a phone call. For my second daughter, it’s What’s App or texting. For my son, it’s an online game called Steam. I have some business associates who only reach out to me on Facebook or LinkedIn. Others are strictly email or a phone call. The key here – is to go where the people you want to talk to, hangout.
Use social media platforms like Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter to your advantage by sharing news and reading updates without having to reach out to people on an individual basis. Social media is fantastic. Instead of starting your next call with, “What’s new?” you can jump to, “You cut off your hair!” “You have a new job!”
From time to time, use snail mail! Yes, OMG, send a handwritten letter or a card. It’s so “old school” and it’s almost guaranteed that someone will read it.