Networking Prep Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Networking Up

Networking Up! More Tips For Connecting Above Your Weight Class

We’ve all heard the advice: “you become the people you hang out with.” This means that you not only need to surround yourself with successful people (however you define success) but that you also need to be continually networking up to raise the bar for yourself over time.

Having run the world’s largest business networking organization for more than three decades, one of the things I’ve learned is that: There’s generally room at the top. It’s the bottom that’s really crowded. So how do you start networking above your weight class to move your way up? Here are nine things I recommend that will help you accomplish that goal.

Hang out where successful people are.

We are all at a different place in our career, so start by assessing where you are and then determine where you can go to “network up.” When I was new in business, that meant joining a local service club like Rotary, Lions, or Kiwanis. Organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and BNI are also excellent ways to start networking up. Later, I added boards of non-profit organizations and charities to my list. Many successful people play in these arenas. What a great way to connect with these people in a professional environment.

Embrace discomfort.

If you’re not uncomfortable connecting with someone, then you’re not aiming high enough. I’ve been there. I understand this feeling. However, you need to get past that and go talk to them. Your discomfort may be a sign that this is the exact person you should be talking to.

Don’t sell or pitch to them!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve met someone for the first time and they start “selling to me.” I’ve seen the same thing when I’ve been with other business people far more successful than me. Don’t do it! The old adage – “it never hurts to ask, right” is completely wrong when you are networking up with someone for the first time. A lot of people do it – don’t be one of the crowd.

Don’t complain to them.

I know, that sounds obvious, but I’ve been both the victim of it and I’ve seen it. I was with an incredibly successful business man some time ago when he was meeting people in a crowd when someone he just met went on a rant about some problem with the man’s company. He stood out, and was quietly escorted out. You want to be remembered, but not for that.

Acknowledge their work but don’t be a sycophant.

There are plenty of people to flatter them, so don’t “puppy-dog lick them” to death. Successful people are, however, still people, and they appreciate knowing their work makes a difference. I have found that if I share a specific story about how their work or business has really helped someone in some way, they truly appreciate the comment. That way the conversation is not all about me, and at the same time, it acknowledges them for the work they’ve done.

Work within the context.

If at all possible, find a way to connect what is happening at the moment to something interesting in your discussion or setting. For example, I met a well-known international thought leader for the first time at a book signing for speakers at a conference. The problem was that the audience was still at dinner, and no one was at the signing! So I shared a story with him about a book signing I did where the only person who showed up was my mother. She acted like she was a fan and made such a big deal at the signing that people started crowding around my table. It was an incredible embarrassment that turned into a huge success. He laughed so hard that it helped him remember me well enough to invite me to join a professional organization that meets regularly around the world.

Find out what they’re currently interested in.

This is a critical item. If you know they are going to be at an event, do some internet research to find out what they are currently working on, then open up your discussion by asking them to tell you about it. If you haven’t done the research – ask them what they are working on that they are most excited about. Google them to learn more about them.

Add value when you are networking up.

This is the most important item. If you can find a way to add value – you’ll be remembered. For example, the last time I had the opportunity to talk to Richard Branson, I asked him about his latest endeavor at the time – The “B Team” or the Business Team. When I asked him about it, he was pretty excited with the program. I asked him how I could help him with it. I asked if it would be of value if we did a short video interview. He could share the program with my audience. He loved the idea, and we shot the video about the B Team program for my blog.

Don’t assume they remember you next time.

If you meet them or connect with them again, never, ever, assume they remember you. Always help them out by giving them context on how you know each other or met. Really successful people tend to meet hundreds, if not thousands, of people. Giving them context helps them jog their memory. If you meet them in person, give them a reminder of where you met. When I am networking up with an email communication, I’ll send a copy of a photo of the two of us from the event where we met. That always jogs their memory.

Finally, remember that if you’re always the most successful person in the room, you’re hanging out in the wrong rooms. Take these nine suggestions and start “networking up” to the right rooms.

receive referrals

How long does it take for people to receive referrals from their network?

From my experience, strong referral relationships are a lot like building close personal friendships. It takes time for people to become close enough to receive referrals from their network. Facebook has redefined what a “friend” is, but I’m talking about truly close friendships with people. In a study published in 2018 by the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, it was found that it takes about 50 hours of interaction to move from being an acquaintance to becoming a “casual friend.” It takes a total of 90 hours to be become “real friends,” and a total of 200 hours to become “close friends.” According to the study, “friendship status was examined as a function of hours together, shared activities and everyday talk.”

So, how long does it take for people to build a close relationship where they trust you enough to give you regular referrals?

So, you want referrals and you want them now?  Well, you can’t have them. Unless you’ve built meaningful relationships with your referral partners first. Well, it takes somewhere between 90 and 200 hours for people to receive referrals from their network.

I know that 90 – 200 hours sounds like a lot but that matches up almost perfectly 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 friendships with their referral partners.

The Steps You Should Take If You Want to Build Business Off Referrals

Ask yourself the following four questions until you have attained success and the answers become obvious.

2. Am I regularly making stimulating, educational presentations to my fellow networkers about the value I provide to my clients?

3. Am I doing business with others in my network so I can give them dynamic testimonials and steer business to them in hopes they will return the favor?

4. Am I meeting regularly with my networking colleagues to learn about their businesses so I can confidently refer my contacts to them?

If you’re following these simple tactics, then you are well along the road to getting all the referrals from others’ networks that you deserve. 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. This means that you have to go deep in building a number of strong relationships.

The best way to speed up the process is to actually spend time in the process of developing relationships with the people you are networking with. Networking truly is more about farming than it is about hunting. It is about building relationships and friendships with other business professionals. Remember, it takes time to build friendships.

Target Market

Developing Your Target Market

In the second edition of my book “Networking like a Pro”, I share one of the biggest mistakes I see business professionals make. It is trying to be everything to everyone.  Having a target market for focusing your efforts makes networking more effective.

Staying in Your Lane

Have a clear understanding of who your ideal clients actually are. This is your strategy. When you try to be everything to everyone, you wind up being very little to anyone.  Identify the types of businesspeople that make up your target market. This allows you to better focus your resources in the areas that are most likely to provide success.

Spheres of Influence

The most successful networkers have developed a thorough strategic planning process. They have deepened their relationships with a variety of people across diverse networks. A sphere of influence is a group of people who are most likely to work with you. To determine your spheres of influence take a look at which of your past and current clients you enjoyed working with the best. Then, determine what they have in common. Look for similarities in their businesses or personalities and write down a few of them as your spheres of Influences.

Target Markets

Once you have established two or three target markets, focus your networking on them. Building your business is all about leveraging your strengths within the context of your prospects’ needs, and then networking with as many of those people as you can.

Follow these steps and you will build a great foundation to understand and develop your target market. Find out more about this topic in my book, “Networking Like a Pro: Turning Contacts into Connections – Second Edition“. Please go to my website at https://ivanmisner.com/books/ to learn how to purchase any of my books.

firehose

Are you drinking from a firehose?

When talking about their business with their potential referral sources, I see many entrepreneurs try to get in everything they do in about 30 seconds. It goes by so fast, that they miss most of it; frankly, they tune out after the first few items on the list. They are trying to get others to drink from a firehose,

I encourage you to focus on one thing at a time of your areas of expertise…keep in mind that you are not marketing to your referral sources! You are, in effect, training a sales force. Your networking team is there to keep an eye out for your potential clients. If you “target talk”, that is, hone in on exactly what type of client you are looking for, better, more qualified referrals will result.

If you break your business down into its focused keywords and feature just one keyword each week, you will find that you become much more effective in training your sales force. 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 product.

This skill set is especially productive when you are meeting weekly with a strong contact network. 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 also huge. As you discuss each keyword, share an example with a client story, things you can show and tell that will cement this aspect of your business in your referral sources’ minds.

Facts tell, but stories sell

Networking Overseas

The Do’s and Don’ts of Networking Overseas

Over my many years as the Founder of BNI®, I have traveled to many countries.  In all these places, no matter where they are from,  the people are amazing and want to learn about business referrals and Networking Overseas.

“Different faces, different races, different languages but we all speak the language of referrals”

However, you cannot use your cultural norms you are used to in your country when networking with others. My advice if you are going to conduct business overseas is to learn about the culture you are about to visit.  I recommend that you check out this website.  This site gives you the do’s and don’ts in many countries.

http://www.ediplomat.com/np/cultural_etiquette/cultural_etiquette.htm

Furthermore, I would recommend that you talk to someone in that country when you get there as well.  You probably already have a good contact with someone who invited you to travel to their country. Take time to chat with them before you leave to review what to expect. For example, some basic hand gestures (like pounding your fist in your palm) is EXTREMELY RUDE in Malaysia and Singapore.  Also, tell some of your stories to someone there to see if there is anything culturally problematic.

Do I need a translator?

If you have a translator, they will most likely translate anything offensive into something that is not offensive.  It’s hand gestures and photos on the slide that could get you in trouble with a translator.  The translator may need help with acronyms or with slang. Remember to speak slowly to allow the translator time. Your timing will be off for humor.  With a good translator, give a one or two count for the humor to be translated.  You’ll hear laughs in waves (those who know English and again a couple seconds later for the translation).  If the translator is not so good – it could take four or five seconds for the second wave (if you decide to wait).

If you are keynoting at a networking event – you will feel like a ROCK STAR!  Many times, I found while traveling to other countries, they are very, very respectful people AND are very animated in their appreciation of having you attend their event.

If you are planning to use a PowerPoint in your presentation, it helps to give it to the translator a day in advance.  Include the notes if you have any.  This is particularly good with phrases they have never seen before (slang, acronyms, and phrases like Givers Gain®).  Sometimes, they also like to see a short video of you to watch you before they translate you.  Feel free to give them a link to a video if you have one.

As for avoiding the dreaded “Jet Lag” while traveling, here’s what I do.

  1. If I arrive at a destination in the morning – I force myself to sleep on the plane even if I’m not tired.  Take an over the counter sleep aid.  You must sleep as much as possible or you will get there and be wiped out.
  2. If you arrive at night – force yourself to stay awake on the plane.  Drink coffee or take caffeine pills. Do whatever you need to do to stay awake as much as possible.  A short sleep 1-2 hours is inevitable but try to limit it.  That way when you arrive you are so tired you will just fall into bed.
  3. If you do one of these approaches, you’ll flip your clock quickly (at least it has worked for me for decades).  Try to have your spouse do the same if possible so you are in sync while on your trip together.

I hope this helps.  You will have a blast networking overseas.  My final tip is to have fun.  However, this is a business trip, not a vacation. You are an invited guest in their country. Always act professionally. This is an amazing opportunity and it will be a memorable trip.

Photo by Sergey Kustov (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0), CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Networking Efficiently

Tips for Networking Efficiently by Tiffanie Kellog and Matt Wilkerson (Guest Video Blog)

In this video, “Networking Efficiently”, Tiffanie Kellog, a trainer with Asentiv and author of 4 1/2 Networking Mistakes, interviews Matt Wilkerson, owner of the Verizon store in Williston, FL about how to network more effectivelyand to conduct your networking more efficiently , both by having focus, as well as working with a partner.

Please watch this guest video blog on my YouTube channel:  Ivan Misner: Networking For Success

Name Tags Tips

Name Tags Tips from Tiffanie Kellog (guest blog)

Name Tags Tips from Tiffanie Kellog.

When networking, wearing a name tag is a MUST! However, what you have on your name tag could be hurting you when networking, instead of helping. Join Tiffanie Kellog, author of 4 1/2 Networking Mistakes and consultant for Asentiv, as she discusses what kind of name tag you want to wear when networking. Click here to watch the video. 

 

About Tiffanie Kell0g

For more information on Tiffanie Kellog, please visit her website at tiffaniekellog.com/

Tiffanie Kellog is a professional speaker, coach, and trainer with Asentiv, and is co-owner of a business with her husband.  Therefore, Tiffanie has helped entrepreneurs over the years make more money while saving time. Thus they can have more fun. She is dedicated to helping others make more money in less time.

To contact Tiffanie, call her at 813-263-9690 or email at referrals@tiffaniekellog.com

gains profile

Your Network Should be Both Wide and Deep

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be very powerful. You need a strong and stable network that is both wide and deep. Like the supporting roots of a huge oak tree, some of your referral relationships need to go deeper. You create deeper relationships by learning as much as you can about other people. You want to find out details about their family, their interests, and their goals. Get to know them a little bit better.

I think the absolute master at this is definitely Harvey Mackay, a speaker, and best-selling motivational author. The first time I spoke to Harvey on the phone, he must have been taking notes about everything I said. The second time I had a conversation with him, Harvey surprised me by asking, “So, how are your kids? You’ve got three, right? What are Ashley and Cassie doing now? And how’s Trey doing—is he about ready to go to college?”

I was thinking, “Wow! How did you remember all that?” The more I spoke to Harvey, the more I became convinced that he had a system for keeping track of the important details of the people in his network.

Now when I talk to him, I know what he’s doing, and I love it! I’m impressed by Harvey’s system because it takes work. He has a database of the people in his network, and he does some research before calling anyone. And he’s continually adding and updating the information—your pets’ names, your children’s names, your birthday, and the anniversary of your company startup. Harvey sets himself apart by putting in an effort to honor people by remembering what’s important to them. It’s hard not to be impressed by that.

That’s what I mean by going deep with your relationships. Are there other ways to do this? Certainly, but I think Harvey Mackay’s system is excellent. We live in this sound-bite society in which most people want to get right down to business without getting to know the other person. What I’ve found is when you really get to know somebody, amazing things happen.

Here’s a good example of this. In our BNI groups, we introduced a tool called the GAINS profile—it stands for “Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks, and Skills.” We tested it on a small group of people to see if it would work. Each person filled it out for themselves, listing their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills—both personal and professional. Two guys in our test group didn’t want to fill out their GAINS profiles. “This is just silly,” they complained.

I said, “That’s why we’re testing this tool with you guys before we roll it out. If it doesn’t work, then tell us. But you have to try it first.”

So these two skeptical guys had a conversation and shared their goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills with each other. During the process, they discovered that they were both coaches for their sons’ soccer teams. Oh, all of a sudden, these guys were best friends! They talked about soccer and shared plays with each other. They even ended up scouting out the competition for one another’s teams. And guess what happened? These guys had known each other for a year but never did business with each other. Within three months of the GAINS exercise, they were passing quality referrals to each other. The change happened because they found out they were both soccer coaches and that game connected. That connection built trust, which turned into business.

Connecting over a nonbusiness interest endears you to the other person. Now you’re not just some salesperson to them—you’re a friend.

You pay a compliment to people when you show that you understand what’s important to them. Make it an aim of yours to learn at least one goal or personal interest someone has outside of their business.

Selecting Your Business Networks

This video is hosted by Entrepreneur.com and can be found on The Networking for Success YouTube Channel.

Networking is the perfect way to help take your business to the next level. But putting your eggs in one basket and depending on one networking group to satisfy all your needs won’t work–and that’s coming from the Founder of the world’s largest referral network.

We all select different people in our lives that satisfy various needs that contribute to our well being; our parents provide comfort and guidance, our close friends provide support and cheer, our business relationships provide trust and honesty. While these satisfactions may overlap from group to group, it’s important to have more than one person you’re leaning on for all your emotional needs.

It’s the same with your networking groups! While you may find cheer and honesty in more than one group, it’s important to spread your interests to gain a varied support system.

When selecting your business networks, you need to understand which types are available so you can make an informed decision. There are five types:

1. Casual Contact: A gathering on people from many different professions, usually in a mixer environment

2. Strong Contact: Usually only allows one person per profession, get together very regularly

3. Community Service Clubs: An opportunity to rub elbows with other very successful people

4. Professional Associations: Trade organizations that are very specific in purpose

5. Online: Social Media such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, where networking is constant

To better understand which group fits you best, watch the video below.

 

Thanks, But I Don’t Need Your Card

This video is hosted on the Networking for Success YouTube Channel, hosted by Entrepreneur.com.

Imagine you’re at a networking event.

I know, it’s a stretch. But work with me here.

So you’re mixing and mingling and start passing out your business cards like candy. Suddenly, someone hands it back you and says, “No, thanks.” This actually happened to a BNI Member. He wrote to me, astonished, and asked what I would do in his situation. Well, here’s my answer.

 

 

 

If I’m Not Approachable…am I Alienating?

Truth? You might be.

In the first part of this two-part blog, I talked about how to know if you are approachable when it comes to mingling at networking events–because you may not know that you are the one getting in your own way when it comes to meeting new people and kindling business relationships.

If you read the first blog (found here: https://ivanmisner.com/successful-networking-kind/ ) and discovered that the behaviors listed weren’t those you exhibited when networking, you might begin to wonder if you are, in fact, alienating.

Here are some examples of alienating behaviors:

1. A Negative Attitude: Rambling about your rough personal or professional life is off-putting for your future referral partner. Leave your problems at the door of any networking event you attend. If you’re down, don’t bring others down with you, because they might avoid you at future events and others might follow their lead.

2. Closed-Off Body Language: If you have a scowl on your face and your arms crossed over your chest, others will most likely move on to someone more welcoming. Your stance means a lot in your approachability and allows others to walk past you or join in the conversation easily.

3. Incongruence: Inconsistency in what you say and what you do makes a huge difference in people’s perception of whether or not you are approachable or alienating. If you’re reiterating how much you value kindness in others, but speak poorly to a server or hostess at the event, your potential referral partner is going to dismiss you as insincere.

But how can you really tell if you are approachable or alienating? Bring a trusted friend or referral partner with you to your next networking event and observe each other’s body language, tone of voice and words. Afterwards, exchange constructive feedback with the intent of helping each other become better referral partners.

 

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