No Time for Small Talkstring(22) "No Time for Small Talk"

People often mistakenly perceive what goes on at networking meetings and events as making small talk with a bunch of strangers.  Real business networking , however, isn’t about making small talk at all; rather it is about building meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with other business professionals and small talk isn’t generally something that helps further this aim.  Serious networkers, recognizing that they have limited time to introduce themselves and convey the essence of what they do, generally avoid lengthy small talk. 

 

If you want to build your business through word of mouth, you must give a message that’s heard by others.  You need to create a positive message and deliver it effectively–who are you, what do you offer, and to whom do you offer it?  When you properly position yourself with an effective message instead of trying to connect through making small talk, you save time because others quickly understand  what your company represents and offers.

Take the time to plan your introduction and prepare some concise and descriptive overviews of your products or services.  Then, when you meet someone for the first time, you can give him a good explanation of what you have to offer.  I recommend that you develop several scripts that you can readily use when attending networking meetings.

Show pride in who you are and what you do.  As an example of this, I often mention a fantastic quote from Martha Taft.  When she was a young girl in elementary school, she was asked to introduce herself to a group of people.  “My name is Martha Bowers Taft,” she said.  “My great-grandfather was President of the United States, my grandfather was a United States Senator, my daddy is Ambassador to Ireland, and I am a Brownie.”

If you have honed your message and have crafted an introduction which has been very effective for you at networking functions, I encourage you to share it in the comment forum below and to explain how you went about constructing your message and your introduction.  You never know who you’ll help by sharing your insights. Thanks!

Building Your Network Effectively–Where to Start . . .string(60) "Building Your Network Effectively–Where to Start . . ."

If you’re having a hard time building your network because you’re concerned people can’t seem to understand or relate to your business, it’s helpful to remember that before you can begin to network effectively, you need to find a way to explain your business in a way that people will easily understand. 
We ALL need to heed this rule of thumb and be able to clearly and simply communicate what it is that we do by pinpointing key aspects of our business for our potential referral sources.

My advice to anyone confused about how to clearly explain what it is that they do is to ask yourself these questions and write down your answers:

  • Why are you in business (other than to make a living)?  Why do you do what you do?  How does your business serve others?
  • What do you sell?  Most important, what are the benefits—not the features—of your products or services?
  • Who are your customers?  What are your target markets?  Be specific.  Look at all segments of your business to determine the niche or niches you prefer to work with.
  • What are your core competencies, and what do you do best?
  • How well do you compete?  How do you stand out from your competition?

These questions will help you explain what your business is all about, and make you more effective at implementing a comprehensive referral system.  By communicating these aspects of your business to referral sources, they’re learning how they can refer you; and that’s what networking is all about.

Grow Your Network by Making People Feel Welcomestring(47) "Grow Your Network by Making People Feel Welcome"

In this brief video, Australian networking master Paul Lomas shares some ideas with me about making people feel welcome when they arrive at networking meetings and events. He also gives a very useful tip on how to give a great response when someone asks how you are doing in order to create an opportunity for positive, genuine connections.

The video emphasizes the importance of the visitor’s experience to a networking group and how it can very significantly shape their choice regarding whether or not to return to that group.  Sometimes it can be much too easy to get comfortable in networking groups and neglect visitors.  For that reason, I urge you to watch this short video because it’s a great reminder of just how important it is to genuinely make visitors welcome in order to grow your network and make your networking group as successful as it can possibly be.

Do you have any good tips or stories about how you or others in your networking group make others feel welcome?  Please share them in the comments forum so others can learn from your tactics for successfully meeting, greeting, and making visitors feel at home.

The Ten Commandments of Working a Networking Mixerstring(50) "The Ten Commandments of Working a Networking Mixer"

A couple of weeks ago, I posted a video blog about the Third Commandment of Working a Networking Mixer–Act Like a Host, Not a Guest (Click here to view that video blog).  I promised in that post that I would provide more information on the Ten Commandments of Working a Networking Mixer today, so below is an explanation of each of the Commandments which will help you feel more comfortable at networking mixers and events.

  1. Have the Tools to Network with You at All Times.  These include an informative name badge, business cards, brochures about your business, and a pocket-sized business card file containing cards of other professionals to whom you can refer new business.
  2. Set a Goal for the Number of People You’ll Meet.  Identify a reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group.  If you feel inspired, set a goal to meet 15-20 people and make sure you get all their cards.  If you don’t feel so hot, shoot for less.  In either case, don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.
  3. Act Like a Host, Not a Guest.  A host is expected to do things for others, while a guest sits back and relaxes.  Volunteer to help greet people.  If you see visitors sitting, introduce yourself and ask if they would like to meet others.  Act as a conduit.
  4. Listen and Ask Questions.  Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately.  After you’ve learned what another person does, tell them what you do.  Be specific but brief.  Don’t assume they know your business.
  5. Don’t Try to Close a Deal.  These events are not meant to be a vehicle to hit on businesspeople to buy your products or services.  Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals.  Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the end of it.
  6. Give Referrals Whenever Possible.  The best networkers believe in the Givers Gain® philosophy (what goes around comes around).  If I help you, you’ll help me, and we’ll both do better as a result of it.  In other words, if you don’t genuinely attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not networking effectively.  If you can’t give someone a bona fide referral, try to offer some information that might be of interest to them (such as details about an upcoming event).
  7. Exchange Business Cards.  Ask each person you meet for two cards–one to pass on to someone else and one to keep.  This sets the stage for networking to happen.
  8. Manage Your Time Efficiently.  Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you meet, and don’t linger with friends or associates.  If your goal is to meet a given number of people, be careful not to spend too much time with any one person.  When you meet someone interesting with whom you’d like to speak further, set up an appointment for a later date.
  9. Write Notes on the Backs of Business Cards You Collect.  Record anything you think may be useful in remembering each person more clearly.  This will come in handy when you follow up on each contact.
  10. Follow up!  You can obey the previous nine commandments religiously, but if you don’t follow up effectively, you will have wasted your time.  Drop a note or give a call to each person you’ve met.  Be sure to fulfill any promises you’ve made.

If you tend to get nervous about attending business networking functions, use the Ten Commandments outlined above to help you network your way through your next event and I guarantee you they will help you feel more comfortable and you will get more effective results for your networking efforts.

3 Reasons Why Acting Like a Host at Events Can Alleviate Networking Fearstring(72) "3 Reasons Why Acting Like a Host at Events Can Alleviate Networking Fear"

At a recent Referral Institute conference, I was talking with Tiffanie Kellog and Renia Carsillo, two Referral Institute trainers from Florida, and we were talking about the “Ten Commandments for Working a Networking Mixer.”  To our surprise, we each share the same favorite when it comes to the Networking Mixer Commandments yet the reasons why it’s our favorite are quite different.

Tiffanie is an introvert, I’m a situational extrovert, and Renia is an introverted go-getter.  However the “Act Like a Host, Not a Guest” Commandment provides unique solutions in making networking more comfortable and natural for all three of these personality types and in this brief video we discuss  exactly how.

If you’re interested in learning about the Ten Commandments of Working a Networking Mixer, come back on Monday, October 1st to find out more.  In the meantime, let us know what you think of this video.  Are you more similar to Tiffanie, Renia, or me when it comes to your personality type?  Are you going to try the tactic of acting like a host at your next event?  If so, please revisit this page and leave a comment after your event to let us  know how it went–we’d love to hear about your experience.

8 Tips for Throwing a Successful Business Mixerstring(47) "8 Tips for Throwing a Successful Business Mixer"

Establishing a word-of-mouth, referral-based business sometimes requires getting people to come to “your cave” to learn more about your products and services.  Throwing a business mixer is a great way to do this yet, I’ll admit, throwing a successful business mixer isn’t easy.

However, if you remember that your primary purpose is to facilitate networking, you’ll be okay.  Here are eight tips that will help you host an effective,  successful business mixer:

  • If you have a large enough office, throw a business mixer there to get exposure for your business.
  • Plan the mixer no less than eight weeks in advance.  Invite many guests and get people to donate door prizes.
  • Allow all to bring information on their products or services.  Have one or more large tables set aside with a sign for this purpose.
  • Designate several “Visitor Hosts” to greet the guests as they arrive.  When people start to arrive, make sure all fill out their name tags properly.  Have few chairs available.
  • Conduct a short networking exercise, such as having each guest meet three people he hasn’t met before or having everyone find someone in a similar business and ask one another what their most effective networking tactics/efforts have been.
  • There are many innovative things you can do to make a mixer both fun and successful, such as have a “Meet Your (Business) Match” mixer with designated areas for specific business professions such as finance, real estate, health care, etc.  Or, have everyone pick a card with the name of one half of a famous duo out of a hat.  Then, each person keeps meeting people until he or she runs into his or her “partner.”
  • Always remember what’s mentioned in the intro to this blog: your primary purpose is to facilitate networking and if you focus on that and don’t try to distract from that purpose by dominating the event with speeches or presentations, you’ll be on track for mixer success.
  • At the end of the mixer, spend no more than about ten minutes doing introductions and giving door prizes.

If you’ve hosted networking mixers before and have some additional tips to offer or if you have interesting stories to tell about your experience with hosting a mixer, please share your thoughts in the comments section so we can all learn from what you have to say. Thanks!

Does the Thought of Introducing Yourself at Networking Meetings Make You Panic?string(79) "Does the Thought of Introducing Yourself at Networking Meetings Make You Panic?"

If the thought of giving a brief introduction of yourself and your business at networking meetings makes your palms sweat, read on . . .

When participating, even as a guest, in various networking meetings or functions, the fact is that you will be required to introduce yourself sooner or later.  Preparing a script for introducing yourself will improve your results.  One of your scripts should be an overview of what you do.  Other presentations can address various aspects of your product or service.  Here’s the script sequence I recommend:

  • Your name
  • Your business or profession
  • Brief description of your business or profession
  • Benefit statement of one of your products or services
  • Your name again

Your name and your business profession are easy enough.  A brief description and a benefit statement can be separate items,  but more often they are intertwined in your message.  It’s fairly easy to combine your business with the benefits of your product or service.  I suggest telling people what you do, as well as what you are:

“I’m a financial planner and I help people plan for their future”  or “I’m an advertising and marketing consultant; I help companies get the most out of their advertising dollar.”  These explanations are more effective than saying, “I do financial planning,” or “I plan advertising campaigns.”

In many situations, you’ll be introducing yourself to only one or two people at a time.  Some networking organizations have all the members stand at each meeting, and in round-robin fashion, give a one-minute overview to the entire group.  If you’re a member of a group like this, it is vitally important to vary your presentations.

Many people who are in networking groups that meet every week have a tendency to say the same old thing, time after time.  From what I’ve seen, many weekly presentations are done weakly.  If you don’t vary your presentations, many people will tune you out when you speak because they’ve already heard your message several times.  Your best bet is to give a brief overview, then concentrate on just one element of your business for the rest of your presentation.

If you prepare your brief introduction using these techniques, you will begin to get much more confident at introducing yourself and, what’s better, you’ll begin to get better networking results.  If you try introducing yourself in this way at your next networking meeting or function,

I’d love to hear how it turns out for you–please come back and share your experience in the comments section.  Or, if you’ve already done some things to help you with this issue – share them with us now.  Thanks!

Body Language Can Be the Silent Killer of Conversationsstring(55) "Body Language Can Be the Silent Killer of Conversations"

Body language can be an extremely powerful or attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others.  Could you be unknowingly undermining your networking efforts through your body language?

Here’s a good experiment to implement, sooner rather than later.  The next time you’re out networking, take along a trusted friend and have him observe your body language.  Here are several things you can ask him to focus on regarding your performance at this event:

  • Eye contact.  Are you making good eye contact throughout the conversation?  Or are you looking behind the person to see who else is at the event?
  • Arm movement.  What are your arms doing?  Are they folded (“I’m bored”) or tucked behind your back (“I’m interested”)?
  • Positioning.  Are you standing in a manner that is open and welcoming, or blocking people out of your conversation?  Are you leaning on something, as if bored or tired?  Are you unable to shake hands because you’re juggling  a plateful of food?
  • Facial expressions.  Are you smiling, or holding back a yawn?  Are you showing interest?  What does your face say?

Take time to discuss your friend’s observations and reactions.  Listen to the feedback, become more aware, and make adjustments accordingly.  Our body language is primarily subconscious–we’re usually not aware of it, or the hidden messages it sends.  That’s why we need the help of someone we trust to give us honest feedback.

People check you out visually within the first seven seconds of meeting you.  With that in mind, try these two actions in the next few weeks to help ensure that you are making positive and powerful first impressions:

  1. Look in the mirror before leaving the house and ask yourself, “What message am I sending to those who are meeting me for the first time?  What opinions will they have of me before I even open my mouth?”
  2. Become more aware of your body language by getting feedback.  What are you saying without speaking a word?  Take someone with you to your next networking function and ask them to provide honest, direct feedback on your body language.

After you’ve taken these actions, please come back and leave a comment sharing what important things you learned–we’d all like to hear your thoughts!

Women Are the New Menstring(21) "Women Are the New Men"

 

I was recently interviewed by Bill Moller on the “First Business” news show about men and women in business. 

The host said that “women are the new men.”  It’s an odd statement, I know, but I promise that if you take a mere three minutes out of your day to watch this video clip of the interview, you’ll understand what he means by this and you might not think it’s such an odd statement after all.

I came to the conclusions I talk about in this interview based on many recent statistics and findings by esteemed business publications and I think it’s a really interesting and noteworthy topic.  What are your thoughts on this? Do you agree? Disagree? . . . I’d love to hear your input so, by all means, please leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Top Tips for Overcoming Timidity from “The Once Timid Networker”string(76) "Top Tips for Overcoming Timidity from “The Once Timid Networker”"

At a networking event just a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to record this video with a good friend of mine, Tara Schmakel (also known as “The Once Timid Networker”), who offers her top four tips for overcoming timidness–something the majority of networkers face at one point or another.

Tara has plenty of additional information and resources for both painfully timid networkers and networkers who simply face moments of timidity once in a while and if you’d like to find out more, please visit Tara’s website: www.TheOnceTimidNetworker.com.

If you’ve struggled with timidness and have any anecdotes of your experiences or helpful tips to share, please leave your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks in advance for sharing your stories and insights to help others who are trying to conquer their timidity.

 

If You Don’t Have One, People Could Be Avoiding You . . .string(63) "If You Don’t Have One, People Could Be Avoiding You . . ."

Have you ever been to a networking event and purposely avoided someone you really wanted to talk to because you were embarrassed you couldn’t remember their name?  Well, if you’re not wearing a name badge at networking events, other people could be avoiding you for this very reason!

In this short video, my friend Kevin Barber and I explain why name badges are an extremely important tool for effective networking and why you should always be sure to wear a name badge at networking events.

Do you have an exemplary story that demonstrates how name badges have come in handy for you, or how the lack of a name badge (whether yours or someone else’s) affected your networking?  If so, I’d love to hear it so please share it in the comments section . . .

 

 

Can Cultural Differences be Affecting Your Networking Success?string(62) "Can Cultural Differences be Affecting Your Networking Success?"

 

A few weeks ago, I spoke at an event in Israel and while I was there, I got to talking to my good friend Sam Schwartz about the very different networking styles and tendencies which occur from country to country.

It is very important to consider and respect cultural differences when networking and doing business in different countries across the globe and, in this short video, Sam and I discuss why it is important and how you can prepare yourself in order to achieve great networking results no matter where in the world you may be.

After watching the video, please share your own stories in the comments section about the differences in business and networking styles and tendencies you’ve observed when networking in various countries around the world.  Also, be sure to visit the following website which is a fantastic educational resource in regard to cultural differences: www.ExecutivePlanet.com.

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