Global Business Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Poland

Witajcie w Warszawie!

This week most of our BNI directors from around the world are traveling to Warsaw to attend the 2019 BNI Global Convention. Welcome to Poland! To those BNI directors and members attending, I am looking forward to meeting you. Therefore, if you have never been to Warsaw, here are some tips from Ryszard Chmura, the National Director of BNI Polska that will make your trip to Poland more enjoyable!

Welcome to Warsaw! I am honored that Poland, Warsaw, will host BNI Global Convention 2019. This event will be held in Europe for the first time! A lot of BNI Members and Directors from all over the world will visit Poland this month. I can’t wait for this event and I am looking forward to meeting you. If you have never been to Poland, here are my tips, that will help you enjoy your stay here.

Polish language

I speak polish – what’s your superpower? I can’t say Polish is an easy language to learn, but knowing some basic greetings will help you with networking at the conference. But don’t worry, English is the second most common language spoken in Poland. I recommend you to try to learn a few words, which could help you break the ice with the Poles. The most popular greeting “Hello! How are you?” in Polish is “Cześć! Jak się masz?”

Must-see in Poland

Taking part in the 2019 BNI Global Convention is the best opportunity to visit Poland and sightseeing in our beautiful country. Poland’s capital, Warsaw is the heart of the country. The center of Warsaw’s public life is the Old Town. Visit the Old Town to see the most beautiful houses and palaces in the city or check out the museums. My second recommendation is Cracow. Cracow is the most often visited city by tourists in Poland. This city is not only the second-largest city in the country but also one of the oldest ones. Wawel Castle, the Old Town, and the Kazimierz district are on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Polish cuisine and must-eats in Warsaw.

The market square in Warsaw offers a wide range of good restaurants with polish cuisine, where you can try polish traditional foods: pierogi, bigos or żurek. After the conference’s lectures, you can spend time at the market square, not only trying polish food but also polish traditional drinks. Have you ever tried “wiśniówka”?

Poland is known as the most hospitable country in Europe and I hope you will enjoy your stay here! Wishing everyone a fantastic 2019 BNI Global Convention.

Ryszard Chmura, National Director – BNI Poland

cultural differences

3 Tips About International Cultural Differences

We now live in a fully global society where it is imperative to have an awareness of cultural differences as they relate to networking.  We often notice differences within our own country. However, what about businesses that are networking with businesses in other parts of the world? We should be aware and prepared for some of these particular cultural differences that can affect the way we network with other cultures.  They are sometimes as simple as the way we hand out a business card, to as complex as the study of personal space, and the use of gesters.

Networking in today’s market takes finesse and knowledge of the culture in which you are networking.  Furthermore, if you attending a global convention or event, you will need to know the customs of networking for the various cultures attending, not just those of the host country. Here are three areas where cultural differences mandate a closer look at networking etiquette:

Business Card Etiquette

Exchanging business cards is an essential part of most cultures.  The business card is much more in the Asian culture than it is to us here in America.  It is truly an extension of the individual and is treated with respect.  Things like, tucking it into a pocket after receiving it, writing on it, bending or folding it in any way, or even looking at it again after you have first accepted it and looked at it are not considered polite and can insult your fellow Asian networker.

Consideration of “Personal Space”

When networking, it’s very important to respect the cultural boundaries relating to personal space. Some cultural dynamics are fine with close personal interaction, while others demand a bigger bubble.  This is not a point to underestimate.

In Saudi Arabia, you might find yourself recoiling while your business associate may get the impression that you are stand-offish.  In the Netherlands, this might be reversed due to the fact that their personal space equates to our social space.  Do your homework and be sensitive to cultural differences in this area.

Use of Slang and Gestures

When using slang in a business environment, you might want to keep in mind that what means one thing to us might have no meaning or have a very different meaning in another culture. I recommend that you consult with someone in that country who is familiar with that culture before interacting with the business people.

It was invaluable to me to be able to have my Israeli Director in BNI, Sam Schwartz, coach me regarding the Orthodox Jewish custom of not shaking hands with someone from the opposite gender.

 Networking basics are universal; with some care for taking into account cultural nuances. It is important to find things that bring us together.  Things that are similar for us all.  For example, we all speak the language of referrals and we all want to do business based on trust.  This transcends many cultural differences. 

5.6 Billion People

Are We Now Connected to 5.6 Billion People Worldwide?

Here’s an interesting question:

“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:

https://ivanmisner.com/santa-claus-easter-bunny-six-degrees-separation/

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.

Business Trip

My Must-Remember Items When Packing for a Business Trip

I travel several months a year, speaking to business professionals about networking. When traveling, especially internationally, I try very hard not to forget important items I need for meetings or speaking to groups of people. . . but I admit it’s hard to remember everything all the time. An international magazine interviewed me recently on this topic. The reporter asked me, “What should business people think about taking with them on a business trip that they might not normally think about?” This list would benefit anyone taking a trip, so I’m sharing it here.

First, a few somewhat obvious things that can certainly come in handy on a business trip:

  1. Plenty of business cards: It is never a good idea to run out of business cards while traveling. Tuck extras in your suit pockets, wallet/purse, briefcase, and luggage. I put stacks in many places to ensure I always have extra.
  2. Name badge: If you do any networking while traveling on business, have your own professional name badge. Don’t rely on the hosting organization to do your name badge and do it right.
  3. Extra pens: Make sure you have a pen with you while you are doing meetings. I always find that I need to write some reminders down while I’m talking to people. It’s troublesome to track down a pen while you are busy networking.

Somewhat less obvious things:

  1. The contact information (or business cards) of all your referral partners. I sometimes find that having that information at my fingertips allows me to give referrals to people while I’m out networking.
  2. Hand sanitizer: I know this may sound a little bit like “Mr. Monk,” the germaphobe title character of a television series. However, I have found that since I’ve started using hand sanitizer after shaking many, many hands, that I have been getting far fewer colds than I used to get. Just be tactful about the way you use it. Don’t desperately and obviously spray your hands every time you shake someone’s hand.
  3. Breath mints: As obvious as it may sound, I can assure you from experience that many people have no idea they need them.
  4. Memory stick: Many times I have either needed to get a copy of something or give a copy of a file or presentation to people while out networking. Having a memory stick handy has been very helpful on several occasions.
  5. Camera: A camera is great if you want to memorialize some occasion or a meeting with someone important to you. A video camera can be important for anyone that blogs. It gives you a chance to interview someone during your travels. I do this almost every time I travel.
  6. Tools for your business: For me, that includes many copies of my bio for introductions whenever I speak. Despite that my team sends the bio in advance, there are many times when I arrive and they don’t have the bio handy. Another tool for me is a PowerPoint remote clicker. This is really important for me. I don’t want to rely on someone else to move the slides forward as I present. Also, you know that memory stick I mentioned earlier? I have copies of my talks on there just in case the group I’m speaking to has misplaced my presentation material.

When I asked some colleagues and other business travelers what they would add to the list, they added some that I hadn’t thought of. Here are some of their suggestions:

  1. A phone charger. I agree heartily, especially seeing how much these items cost in an airport, or in another country. And you certainly won’t want to forget your laptop power cord. Besides being expensive, it’s often impossible to be able to get the right one easily, if at all. Also, you should write a “note to self” to fully charge all of your electronic devices the night before you leave.
  2. Power adapter/converter. Though it’s usually easy to pick up a “universal” adapter at airports or stores in heavily populated areas, in this electronic age you would hate to need one and not be able to find one. It is best to have one (or two) packed and ready when you need it!
  3. The right clothes. Most of you have experienced differences in temperature or weather from one town to another, so you can imagine how different the conditions could be across the country or around the world. It’s never been easier to plan what clothes to bring, thanks to online weather forecasts for every region of the earth. Of course, there are no guarantees where the weather is concerned.
  4. A good book. Hear, hear! Those airport layovers, delays, and long flights can seem even longer without something interesting to read.

I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. Over the years, Bob and I have accumulated numerous tips to help aid overseas business travel. It is also important to know the role that cultural differences play into global networking and how understanding those differences becomes very important as we do business around the world. If you are preparing to network in Asia?–Consider These Valuable Tips

There are certainly more items to include, but the above can certainly make or break an important business trip. So you definitely do not want to forget them.

Introducing Garage to Global

Garage to Global

What does it take to start a home-based business and turn it into a global organization?  I am sharing the many lessons I’ve learned to do just that.

In 1985, I started a small business from my home in Southern California.  Today, BNI has ovBNI Member Growth Through 2014er 7,400 locations in more than 65 countries around the world (see the member growth chart to the right).

From business networking to management, scaling a business, and surrounding yourself with good people, I will be sharing with you the secrets for building a global brand.

Go here and subscribe to my new Garage to Global Channel (part of the Entrepreneur Network) on YouTube: http://tinyurl.com/garagetoglobal.

Share with me below what you think it takes to go from “garage to global” (but don’t forget to subscribe to my new channel. 🙂

Networking Amidst Cultural Differences

Photo Courtesy of Potowizard

Photo Courtesy of Potowizard

Understanding cultural differences when doing business around the world is  becoming more important in a global society.  Even within large countries like the United States, there are definitely differences from one region to another.  When you go beyond that and look at one country vs. another, the differences become even more impactful on business.

When we concentrate on similarities with each other in business, the differences aren’t that important.  Problems arise when the differences appear to be all there are.  When entrepreneurs focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, these differences can become stumbling blocks to developing a strong relationship, which is, after all, the ultimate goal of networking.  When you factor in differences in communication and behavioral styles it exacerbates the perceived differences.

Although many networking basics are universal, if you can factor in these and other cultural nuances you will definitely get a leg up when doing business in other countries.  Your networking etiquette will be greatly appreciated as your business increasingly takes you into other countries, especially if you can learn a few words or commonly practiced traditions of that country.  Showing this kind of respect will go a long way in making a smoother connection with the local business people you are trying to work with.

The old saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans” is very appropriate.  However, one thing I’d strongly suggest–don’t just “do as the Romans,” take the time to actually “ask a few Romans.”  I have had amazing suggestions from local business people I knew in other countries who thoroughly prepped me for the cultural differences in networking prior to my arrival in their country.  Their counseling and coaching made a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout many of the countries I have visited.

If you have any useful tips or bits of advice for successfully networking in a certain country or region of the globe, please–by all means–share this information in the comments section.  You never know who you could be helping!

Top Etiquette Tips on Doing Business & Networking Globally

We’re constantly becoming more of a global community and we’re receiving more and more opportunities to network worldwide right alongside cultures which are very different from our own. This makes it very important to know what to do and what to say when it comes to respecting cultural norms, boundaries, and traditions–more importantly, we need to know what not to say and what not to do (trust me, by the personal stories you’ll hear in this video, you’ll realize that I learned this lesson the hard way).

At a recent 2015 Referral Institute® conference, I had the pleasure of speaking to my friend, referral marketing trainer Tiffanie Kellog, about cultural etiquette and why it’s so important to be aware of it.  I offer my top tips on doing business and networking globally and also reveal one of my favorite online educational resources which deals with this topic.

Do you have a story about an experience doing business and/or networking globally which stands out in your mind?  Please share it in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Welcome to International Networking Week® 2015!

This week marks the 9th annual celebration of International Networking Week® which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe.  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach.  If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb 2-6).

Please feel free to share this video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what have you already done and/or what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Please share your plans in the comment forum below–thanks!

 

The Top 7 Things I’ve Learned from 30 Years of Heading the World’s Largest Business Networking Organization

BNI-30-Year-Logo

BNI’s Official 30th Anniversary Commemorative Logo

30 years ago this past Thursday, I put together about 20 people in a small coffee shop in Arcadia, California for the very first meeting of BNI® (Business Network International).  The organization was run from a small bedroom which was converted into an office inside my house in La Verne, California.

The House Where BNI® Began

The House Where BNI® Began

I am humbled by the fact that today the organization has over 7,000 chapters in 60 countries with over 170,000 members world-wide.  In addition, we have over 30 BNI staff at HQ and more than 3,000 BNI Directors and Director Consultants working for the organization!

I don’t believe any of the two dozen or so people who were present at that first meeting fully realized that this was the beginning of something amazing. 

That realization came to me almost a year later between Christmas and New Years as I looked back in amazement at having opened up 20 groups during the year.  At this point I recognized I had struck a chord within the business community.  We don’t teach networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world, and business people are hungry for referrals. They simply had no viable way to generate them regularly back in 1985.  It was during that week that I sat down and put together the outline for a plan that has evolved into what BNI is today.

I was recently asked by a BNI Director what the secret to this growth was.  I’ve taken some time to write down some of the key factors I think contributed to our success as my answer to his question.  These are factors you won’t find in most business books, and they weren’t taught to me in graduate school.  But I think they were critical to our success in this organization and they may be relevant factors to you, too.

BNI's Current Headquarters Building in Southern California

BNI’s Current Headquarters Building in Southern California

Lessons I Learned in Developing BNI:

  1. Set Goals. I know – everyone says “set goals,” but let me give you a slight variation to this concept.  I recommend you set three levels of goals.  By setting goals in this manner, you give yourself some flexibility in where you want to go over the next year (or years).
    1. High – set a goal that is a stretch. This is one that will be very difficult to reach, but it is definitely possible.
    2. Target – set a goal that you are confident you can reach. It won’t be easy, but it is definitely possible.
    3. Low – set a goal that if everything goes wrong, you are still confident you can reach this.
  2. Reverse engineer your goals. At each level above – where do you want to be at the end of twelve months from now?  That number would be 100% of your annual goal.  Now reverse that.  At nine months you should be at 75% of that goal.  At six months, you should be at 50% of that goal.  At three months, you should be at 25% of that goal.  Check your progress every month.  Stay on track.
  3. Do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times! I think one of the big mistakes businesses make is that they jump from one bright shiny object to another. For me, success has come by being like a “dog with a bone!”  I have taken techniques that I’ve seen work, and then I’ve done them over and over and over and over.  Six things, a thousand times.
  4. Create a larger vision. It’s never too early or too late to create a larger vision.  Create something that is a unifying concept for you, your employees, and possibly even your clients – something that resonates with people and creates a long-term vision for the company.  For BNI this began with our philosophy of “Givers Gain.”  It has been inculcated throughout the organization and has been the guiding force of our referral-marketing program.  It led to our vision statement of “Changing the Way the World Does Business” which is all about businesses collaborating and cooperating through our philosophy.
  5. Maintain personal engagement. As a company grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to be personally engaged in every aspect of the business.  That means you must make choices.  However, you must continue to be personally engaged as much as possible.  Technology has enabled me to stay engaged with members and directors (through my visitations, video messages, this newsletter, my blog, the BNI Podcast, our social media, and BNI Connect, to name a few). Nothing replaces personal engagement.  The more you remain engaged, the more your vision can thrive.
  6. Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice. One thing I’ve learned over the last 30 years is that I can teach people “how” to do something (including network).  I can’t teach them to have a good attitude, and I don’t have time to send them back to Mom to get retrained.  The only thing better than “ignorance on fire” is “knowledge on fire.”  If I can take someone who is on fire and teach that person how to succeed, our organization becomes unstoppable.
  7. Do what you love, and you’ll love what you do. As a business person, you are either working in your flame or working in your wax.  When you are in your flame, you are on fire.  You are excited and energized.  When you are working in your wax, you are drained and fatigued.   As a company grows, it is easy to get caught up doing more and more in your wax.  Find out what your flame is, and then do your best to work more in that flame.  Find people whose flame is your wax and put them in the roles you no longer love doing.  This will free you up to work in your flame.

I’d love to hear any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or observations that you might have about the BNI organization whether you’re a member of the organization or not and I’d also really like to hear any key lessons or tips for success which you’ve learned through your own experience in the world of business.  Please share your thoughts, etc. in the comment forum below–thanks!  

 

 

 

 

 

Make a Good Living While Serving a Greater Good

All of us are in business to make a profit. But if that’s the primary driving force in business, we become mercenaries to that process.  I believe that I should serve a greater need than simply to make a profit. I believe that business can be honorable.  It can make a difference in individual lives as well as communities.

Small business is the engine that drives many of the economies around the world.  Small business doesn’t have the resources of large corporations.  However, if they network together – the sum of the whole becomes greater than the individual parts. Well-designed collaboration based on an effective system and strategy can lead to small business success.

However, in the final analysis, the true foundation for success rests in an organization’s culture.  In fact, I believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast.  An organization needs a sound strategy to succeed but, it needs a great culture to excel.  For me, that approach has been about creating core values around a culture of collaboration.

Core values establish culture. It’s never too late or too early to think about your core values in business and in life. Here are my core values:

  1. The Philosophy of Givers Gain®(What goes around comes around).
  2. Building Meaningful Relationships
  3. Lifelong Learning
  4. Traditions + Innovation
  5. Positive Attitude
  6. Accountability

I believe that it is possible to make a good living while serving a greater good. The core values I have tried to apply in my life and in my business have helped to create a culture of collaboration within the context of building a business. This approach is not only a great way to get business, I believe it is an even better way to do business.

Business can be honorable. It can be something that improves people’s lives as well as supports and helps local communities. It can do so, by not only helping to generate more business for one another, but by giving back to the community, mentoring others, immersing in a culture of shared learning, and by collaborating with others.

I have a big hairy audacious goal (a BHAG) for businesses around the world. I believe we can “Change the Way the World Does Business” and we can do that by incorporating core values into our business that support collaboration and positive meaningful relationships.  

We are coming up on the 30th anniversary for my company (BNI) and I believe that our focus on these core values, philosophy, and vision are responsible for our 30 years of consecutive growth. Through strong economies and serious recessions – my organization has grown year in and year out for 30 years without exception.  Few organizations can say that.   I think that is a testament to our approach to doing business.

Have you given thought to your organization’s core values? If so, share your company’s core values here. I’d love to hear your comments.

 

 

Secrets to Success & Business Growth

In January, BNI® (Business Network International), the worldwide referral marketing organization which I founded in 1985, will be celebrating its 30th anniversary.

In light of this, one of the organization’s franchisees incredulously asked me how I’ve managed to consistently keep the company growing each year and how it’s possible that the BNI continues to steadily achieve higher and higher feats of success.

I made this video in answer to this question and in it I outline my secrets to growth and success step by step.  The great thing about what I explain in the video is that you can apply the same business tactics I used to your own business. 

After watching the video, I’d love to hear your thoughts about BNI, the business strategies I discuss, and/or how you are going to use the tactics I outline in your own business.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

To find out more about BNI, please visit www.BNI.com.

What Is Your Unique Selling Proposition?

When someone asks you what you do, what are the first words out of your mouth?  If the words aren’t ready to roll off your tongue, then read on . . .

LightBulb

Image courtesy of artsamui at Free Digital Photos.net

When someone asks you what you do, make sure you’re ready with a response that is succinct but memorable. The attention span of the average adult is only 20 seconds; a long, drawn-out answer to the question isn’t going to work.

Focus on creating a unique selling proposition (USP)–a mini commercial that you can readily use while networking. I think of this as a personal answer to the age-old “Whattaya do?” question, which we’ve all been asked about a million and a half times.

Here’s an example. When someone asks what you do, don’t reply with a bland, general statement such as “I’m a consultant.” Half the world could say that, and it doesn’t tell anybody anything. Instead, you could say, “I work with small to medium-size businesses to help them attract more clients than they could possibly handle.”  This is short, powerful and informative.

A USP is obviously something you’ll have to tailor to your specific business, but can you see how it packs more punch than just telling people you’re a consultant? Whichever 12 or 20 words you choose, make sure your answer is quick and informative without sounding rehearsed or contrived.

So, make it your goal this week to come with a USP. Not only will this make you much more effective at networking events and functions, being prepared in this way will also make you more comfortable with introducing yourself to new people because you’ll have the confidence of knowing exactly what to say.

Once you’ve used your new USP a handful of times, come back and leave a comment letting me know what kind of response you got from people and how it worked out for you overall. As always, I’d love to hear from you!

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