Networking Tactics Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
new entrepreneur

New Entrepreneur Networking Tips

As a new entrepreneur, one of your primary goals is to continue to fill your pipeline with new business. One of the most cost-effective ways to do this is through networking. One of the biggest roadblocks to networking is the fear that being a new entrepreneur impedes any successful attempts at networking.  Here are a few networking tips for a new entrepreneur:

Become the host

Volunteer to be an ambassador or visitor host for a local business networking event. This can be a great way to get involved without leaving your comfort zone. By serving as a visitor host at your local chamber event, you effectively become the host of the party. Try it! You’ll find it much easier to meet and talk to new people.

Build your social capital at your desk

Online networking is a very effective way to connect with potential clients and referral sources. Social media has made it easier than ever before to connect with large numbers of people. Online networking gives new entrepreneurs a broad reach with low cost and effort. However, what online networking doesn’t do is provide a forum where relationships can deepen. It’s usually better to use social media with people only after you’ve established a relationship with them by traditional means. To develop trust, respect, and true friendship, it’s hard to beat in-person conversation.

Offer advice to break the ice

If you’re not sure how to break the ice, you might want to start by offering some free professional advice. It is possible to offer some value-added advice without coming across too sales-y.  Sharing free advice will demonstrate your expertise as a new entrepreneur. Give your prospects a couple of ideas. Don’t go overboard. When it comes to building rapport and trust, few things do it better than solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for the other person.

Become a trusted source for quality referrals and contacts

Another way a new entrepreneur can ease into networking is to provide a referral or contact. This could be a direct referral (someone you know who’s in the market for another person’s services) or a solid contact (someone who might be helpful down the road).

Most new entrepreneurs, over time, naturally develop a certain level of comfort from dealings with customers, vendors, and others in their day-to-day transactions. So even people who are new to networking can form meaningful relationships and communicate with a little practice.

Bad Networking

Bad Networking Costs More Than $100,000 per Year

Today’s blog comes from a “Home Business Magazine Online” article I was quoted in, Bad Networking Costs More Than $100,000 Per Year. Here’s How to Do It Right by Dustin Siggins.

HOME BUSINESS Magazine ONLINE is loaded with content to help you start-up and succeed in a home-based business. HBM ONLINE is an advanced community for home-based entrepreneurs and business owners; people who work from home; and telecommuters. Therefore, check back often, as the content is loaded daily.

Dustin spoke with several experts about how small business owners can turn networking into company growth.  Furthermore, this article also has advice from Jon Rutenberg, Keith Ferrazzi, Becky Sheetz-Runkle, Todd Rowley, and Chuck Feddersen. I was honored to be included in this article. Below is my segment:

Be Patient

Ivan Misner, Ph.D. founded Business Networking International, which has over 250,000 members worldwide. Misner said that “people tend to use networking as a face-to-face cold-calling opportunity. That does not work. Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting.”

Misner explained that referral and network-based strategies are “about building deep relationships with people who are willing to refer to each other. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you’ll never achieve the success you want. You should find a network that is wide and, in some places, deep.”

What is popular is not always right. For small business owners, networking is very popular, but it is often done wrong. Bad networking costs a minimum of $100,000 annually.

additional ways others can promote

Additional Ways Others Can Promote You

Put your networking circle to work for you with these five additional suggestions you can use to promote others to generate new business for them. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ideas ready to go. Here are the final five examples of additional ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro.

Provide you with referrals.

The kind of support you’d most like to get from your sources is, of course, referrals–names and contact information for specific individuals who need your products and services. Sources can also help by giving prospects your name and number. As the number of referrals you receive increases, so does your potential for increasing the percentage of your business generated through referrals.

Introduce you to prospects.

Your source can help you build new relationships faster by introducing you in person. She can provide you with key information about the prospect. She can also tell the prospect a few things about you, your business, how the two of you met, some of the things you and the prospect have in common, and the value of your products and services.

Follow up with referrals they have given you.

Your sources can contact prospects they referred to you to see how things went after your first meeting, answer their questions or concerns, and reassure them that you can be trusted. They can also give you valuable feedback about yourself and your products or service, information that you might not have been able to get on your own.

Serve as a sponsor.

Some of your sources may be willing to fund or sponsor a program or event you are hosting. They might let you use a meeting room, lend you equipment, authorize you to use their organization’s name, or donate money or other resources.

Sell your products and services.

Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, the one that has the greatest immediate impact on your bottom line is selling your product or service for you. Your network member could persuade a prospect to write a check for your product, then have you mail or deliver the product to your new customer. If you do so swiftly and cordially, you may gain a new lifelong customer.

Suppose a customer you know well tells you a friend of his wants to buy your product. How should you respond? While your interest is still hot, let your friend, the customer, take your product and sell it to his friend, the prospect (if he plans to see his friend in the near future, of course).

This set of five finishes the series of 15 ways others can promote you and your business. Last week I shared the second part of this series with, “Five More Ways Others Can Promote You”. Put your networking circle to work for you with these fifteen total ways others can promote you to generate new business.


Home-based Business

Home-based Business Networking

I’m often asked these days about how to network and build a referral business as a home-based business owner. During the eight years I worked from home (The photo is the home I started BNI in), I learned a great deal about the pros and cons of working from home and how it related to my networking efforts. Although most of the networking techniques that work for any business work for most home-based businesses, there are at least two important issues that I think apply to a home-based business more than any other.

Promoting My Home-based Business

My opinion in this area rubs some home-based business owners the wrong way, but I feel strongly about it: When networking, I don’t recommend you share that you run a home-based business. I believe telling people you meet in networking environments that you “work from home” has either a neutral or a negative impact because it either doesn’t matter to them, or they’re not impressed that you operate your business out of your house.

When I worked from home, I rarely, if ever, met anyone who said, “Oh, fantastic, you work from home–I must do business with you!” Working from home was just not something that I found made people “want” to do business with me. Therefore, why should it be emphasized when meeting people through networking?

Often, when I attend a networking function, I see someone stand, say what they do, how people can refer them and then add at the end that he or she runs a home-based business. I believe that bit of information will generally have no impact or a negative impact on what people think of your potential abilities–it almost never has a positive impact on people wanting to do business with you.

The Cave-Dweller Syndrome.

I find that many home-based business owners seriously suffer from Cave-Dweller Syndrome. Home-based business owners who want to build your business through word of mouth, you have to be visible and active in the community by participating in various networking groups and/or professional associations that will get you out of your cave. These kinds of groups include Casual Contact Networks (like your local chamber of commerce), Business Development Networks (like my own BNI), professional organizations (almost all professions have one), and service clubs (like the Rotary or Lions Clubs).

Look for other ways to be very visible in your circle of influence. For example, be active in your child’s school PTA or your church. Keep your eye open for opportunities to be involved in groups of people who come together for a common cause.

The bottom line is, networking doesn’t change too much whether your business is based from home or a corporate location. The dynamics of developing a strong word-of-mouth-based business transcend your business location. The caveat for the home-based business owner is that you’ll have to be even more diligent and focused on finding those networking opportunities.

 

Five More Ways Others Can Promote

Five More Ways Others Can Promote You

If you’re like most people, you aren’t prepared to accept help at the moment it’s offered. You let an opportunity slip by because you haven’t given enough thought to the kinds of help you need. When help is offered, it’s to your advantage to be prepared and to respond by stating a specific need. Don’t let the next opportunity for others to help slip through your fingers! Being prepared with some simple examples of five more ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro that can make a real difference in the success of your business.

Make initial contact with prospects and referral sources.

Instead of just giving you the phone number and address of an important prospect, a network member can phone, email or meet the prospect first and tell them about you. When you make contact with the prospect, he will be expecting to hear from you and will know something about you. Better yet, your source can help you build new relationships faster through a personal introduction to that person. Ideally, they would pro­vide you with key information about the prospect while also telling the prospect a few things about you, your business and some of the things you and the prospect have in common.

Arrange a meeting on your behalf.

When one of your sources tells you about a person you should meet or someone you consider a key contact, they can help you immensely by coordinating a meeting. Ideally, they’ll not only call the contact and set a specific date, time and location for the meeting, but they’ll also attend the meeting with you.

Publish information for you.

Network members may be able to get information about you and your business printed in publications they subscribe to and in which they have some input or influence. For example, a referral source who belongs to an association that publishes a newsletter might help you get an article published or persuade the editor to run a story about you. Many companies showcase topic-specific experts in their newsletters; you could become the expert in your field for some of these.

Form strategic alliances with you.

Of all the kinds of support that a source can offer, this one has the greatest potential for long-term gain for both parties. When you engage in a strategic alliance, you’re developing a formal relationship with another business owner that says you’ll refer him busi­ness whenever possible and they’ll do the same. This works best in businesses that are complementary.

For example, a handyman would find advantages in forming an alliance with a real estate agent, because they continually encounter people who need home repair work done. Conversely, a handyman probably deals with homeowners who are considering selling their homes after the handyman is finished making repairs. Such strategic alliances can work with a number of other businesses (CPAs and financial advisors, mortgage brokers and real estate agents, hotel salespeople and event planners and so on). The key is to find the person with the right complementary busi­ness and then make it work for both of you.

Connect with you through online networks.

When people connect with you online, you can notify them about your events or projects and you can receive the same kind of information from them. They can see your business profile and biographical data and can refer you to people in their networks. Once con­nected, they can provide recommendations and testimonials for the rest of your network to view.

Last week I shared the first part of this series with, “Five Ways Others Can Promote You”. Put your networking circle to work for you with these additional ways others can promote you to generate new business. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ten ideas ready to go. 

 

ways others can promote

Five Ways Others Can Promote You

Has anyone ever said to you, “If there’s anything I can do to help you with your business, let me know?” and you responded with, “Thank you. Now that you mention it, there are a few things I need” or did you say, “Well, thanks, I’ll let you know”? If you’re like most of us, you aren’t prepared to accept help at the moment it’s offered. Before you can do so, you have to make the connection between specific items or services you need and the people who can supply them. Systematic referral marketing helps you do that by determining, as precisely as possible, the types of help you want and need. Some are simple, cheap and quick; others are complex, costly and time-consuming. Here are some examples of the ways others can promote you and your business from my book Networking Like a Pro.

Display or distribute your literature and products.

Your sources can exhibit your marketing materials and products in their offices or homes. If these items are displayed well, such as on a counter or a bulletin board, visitors will ask questions about them or read the information. Some may take your promo­tional materials and display them in other places, increasing your visibility. A dry cleaner attaches a coupon from the hair salon next door to each plastic bag he uses to cover his customers’ clothing; a grocery store includes other businesses’ marketing literature in or on its grocery bags or on the back of the printed receipt.

Make an announcement.

When attending meetings or speaking to groups, your sources can increase your visibility by announc­ing an event you’re involved in or a sale your business is con­ducting or by setting up exhibits of your products or services. They can also invite you to make an announcement yourself.

Invite you to attend events.

Workshops and seminars are oppor­tunities to increase your skills, knowledge, visibility, and contacts. Members of personal or business groups you don’t belong to can invite you to their events and programs. This gives you an opportunity to meet prospective sources and cli­ents. Even better, they could invite you to speak at their event, effectively positioning you as an expert in your field.

Endorse your products and services.

By telling others what they’ve gained from using your products or services or by endorsing you in presentations or informal conversations, your network sources can encourage others to use your products or services. If they sing your praises on an MP3, a DVD or social media, so much the better.

Nominate you for recognition and awards.

Business professionals and community members are often recognized for outstand­ing service to their profession or community. If you’ve donat­ed time or materials to a worthy cause, your referral sources can nominate you for service awards. You increase your visi­bility both by serving and by receiving the award in a public expression of thanks. Your sources can inform others of your recognition by word of mouth or in writing.

Put your networking circle to work for you with these five ways others can promote you to generate new business. When other people offer to help you spread the word about your business, have these ideas ready to go. 

Part 2: Five more ways others can promote you

Part 3: Additional Ways Others Can Promote You

Business Cards

Why Collecting Business Cards is Not Networking

One of the biggest mistakes people make when networking is thinking that it’s just about running around the room collecting as many business cards as possible. These are often people who don’t really like networking. However, they know they have to do it, and they think this is the best way to get it done. I’ve tried telling them that this is not networking — it’s either face-to-face cold calling or worse yet, it’s simply “card collecting” or being a “Card Dealer“.

Years ago, I ran into a couple of business partners who made a competition of collecting cards at networking events. The person who collected the least number of cards had to buy the other partner dinner that week. They were very proud of this networking strategy — seriously, they bragged about it to me. I tried to tell them that this was really not a good networking strategy. I don’t think they ever got it.

Unfortunately, I still find myself running into people who think this is a great approach to networking effectively. My co-author of Networking Like a Pro, Brian Hilliard, has given me the solution to dealing with this issue.

Barley’s Tale

Brian has a dog whose name is Barley. He’s a 55-pound Shiba Inu, which means he doesn’t like cats and he looks like a fox. Barley is a very well-trained, well-behaved dog. If you’d like to collect business cards at an event but you don’t want to spend all that time collecting the cards, here’s what you can do. You can hire Barley from Brian ($20/hour, two hour minimum + travel) to attend your next event. Brian will put a satchel around him, like a horse. And on one side he’ll place a stack of your business cards, along with a sign that says “Take One” and on the other side he’ll have a pocket that says “Leave Your Card Here.”

Brian will then drive Barley up to the event, send him into the room, and return two hours later to collect Barley and his new stack of business cards. I’m confident he’ll come out with a big stack because he’s very well trained and people really love him.

Now after you take those cards from his side pocket — and make sure to walk him, since he’ll probably need to use the restroom after all of that hard work — will he have truly networked?

Of course not! How could he possibly have networked by getting a stack of business cards?

Collecting business cards at a networking event is not networking

It sounds ridiculous, but that’s how more than a few business professionals approach their networking. It’s like a game of who can get the most cards, and it doesn’t make any sense. Collecting cards at a networking event is not networking — it’s card collecting — which is not a profitable way to build your business. If you put this in the context of Barley running around the event letting people exchange cards with him, it seems obvious.  However, if you’re still on the fence and would like to contact Brian about potentially contracting Barley’s services, please feel free to do so.

Scorched Earth Networker

The Scorched Earth Networker

Over the years, I have noticed different styles of networking.  One of these styles results in the ground smoking wherever these networkers tread.  I call this “Scorched Earth Networking”.  It is very important to AVOID this type of networking. Here are the five hallmarks of a Scorched Earth Networker.

Constantly Moves Groups

They are dissatisfied with the referrals received.  The Scorched Earth Networker does not stay in one place long enough to build the type of relationships it takes to really capitalize on networking.  It’s like planting a tree in one spot. When the growth isn’t happening fast enough, it’s uprooted again and replanted.  Each time that tree is uprooted, it takes longer to build itself back up to even where it was before being moved.   A serious networker understands that in order for that tree to thrive, it needs to stay where it is.

Talks More Than Listens

Have you met someone who talks on and on about their services and does not seem genuinely interested in your business? You met a Scorched Earth Networker!   A serious networker will want to learn all about you and your business, and how they can help you accomplish your goals.

Does Not “Honor The Event”

They network at inappropriate events.  You’ve seen the Scorched Earth Networker wanting to do business and passing out business cards at a church function, funeral or other inappropriate events.  The key to networking at all times is to do it in a way that is appropriate.  While it can be entirely appropriate to begin a relationship at an event, such as a wedding or funeral, going around looking for an opportunity to pass out business cards is not the right way to do that!

Thinks That Being Highly Visible Is Enough

The more you are seen in the business community (visibility), the more you become known and trusted (credible).  The problem with the Scorched Earth Networker is that they believe that anything that makes them visible is beneficial.  Wrong!  As people begin to trust you, they begin to refer you to others. This is when you will see more business referrals (profitability).

Expects Others To Be Consistently Referring Them.

The Scorched Earth Networker expects a source of dependable and constant referrals.  This view of networking is a transaction, NOT a relationship.  There is a law of reciprocity and synergy that cannot be denied when you focuses on giving referrals to those around you.

The Scorched Earth Networker Will Fail

Building your business through word-of-mouth is about cultivating relationships with people who get to know you and trust you. People do business with people they have confidence in. It’s not what you know, or who you know, it’s how well you know them that counts. If you go into this process understanding Scorched Earth Networking, you will have a better opportunity to build your business through word-of-mouth.

When you are networking, are you creating relationships by building your social capital or are you leaving a scorched earth behind you?

Open vs. Closed Networking

When a brand new networker goes to a mixer or other informal gathering, their first glimpse of the room may be daunting. They’ll be confronted with a room full of strangers busily involved in conversations. They’ll notice clusters of two, three, four, or more people. As a stranger, they may feel that if they try to join any of the clusters, it will be intruding. It’s an awkward moment, and they may not know quite what to do or where to start. Be aware of Open vs. Closed Networking.

The way the groups are configured can tell you a lot about how you will be received if you approach them. Notice for instance that some of the groups are “closed”, and no matter which direction you approach from, their backs are turned to you. Therefore, unless you like awkward pauses or hostile glares, don’t try to force yourself in.

Other groups are “open”, and have left an open side from which you can approach them face to face. This orientation is a welcoming configuration; it signals that their conversation is not private and that you would be welcome to join them and introduce yourself.

 

Think about these configurations, next time you attend a networking event. Are you in an “open” group that has a welcoming feel? If you notice you’re in a “closed” group, make sure to position yourself in such a way that any networker, new or experienced, feels at ease.

Transformational Leader Podcast

I was recently interviewed on this topic of “Open vs. Closed Networking” on the Transformational Leader Podcast, sponsored By Paul Martinelli and the John Maxwell Team. This show is designed to help leaders, influencers, and high achievers transform the world through positive influence. BNI has a strategic relationship with John Maxwell Team and I personally recommend their program.

I invite you to listen in to episode #13  of my interview on The Transformational Leader Podcast about “Open vs. Closed Networking”.

Leaders, the way your people are configured in groups during your events can tell your visitors a lot about how they will be received.

It’s important to train people to keep “open” groups: an open side from which visitors can approach others face-to-face. This orientation is a welcoming configuration; it signals that their conversation is not private and that visitors would be welcome to join them and introduce themselves.

The John Maxwell Team Leadership, Coaching, Speaking, and Training Development Program will take your leadership and life to the next level.  They have a great series of podcasts. I recommend you listen to their podcasts at  https://johnmaxwellteam.com/podcast/

AUDIO PROGRAMS

MISNER AUDIO PROGRAMS

Today I’m happy to announce that my professional audio library is available as instant digital downloads as a series of audio programs!

Now you have immediate access to my best audio programs on building your referral network, mastering the basics of networking, enhancing your leadership skills, and more.

UNLOCK THE POWER OF NETWORKING

You can find these audio programs at www.misneraudioprograms.com. I am donating 100% of the royalties generated from the sale of these programs to the BNI Foundation. Magnify your business efforts and support the education of children at the same time — it’s a WIN-WIN.

Whether you are a new or seasoned member, or even if you’ve not yet joined a chapter, these audios will help you from the basics of building consistent referrals to the coaching included about how to Succeed as an Entrepreneur – these audios have something for everyone interested in creating and growing a business. ​

INSTANT DOWNLOADS OF MY AUDIO PROGRAMS NOW AVAILABLE!

These Audio Programs from have never been made available to the public. Now you can own his Greatest Hits.
  • USE CODE IVAN FOR 30% OFF ALL SINGLE PROGRAMS
  • PACKAGES ALREADY DISCOUNTED 40-50%!

Start your adventure here: http://www.misneraudioprograms.com/shop.html

There is no better way to learn about the essential skills of networking. BNI Members all over the world have been inspired and motivated by my audio programs for over 10 years. Now, it’s easier than ever to access instant audio downloads from wherever you are in the world!

Who’s In Your Network

Who Will You Let In Your Network?

Do you know the #1 source of business pain in the lives of most people?

It all stems from letting someone in their network that is not aligned with their values. This might be because you were born into it, like family! Or you chose it like friends, colleagues, acquaintances, or business partners. Regardless of how they got there, they are infiltrating the quality of your life and as a result, YOU SUFFER!

So you have a choice to make…

Allow them to impact you

OR

Make a change today!

I am hosting a MasterClass to help you not only make the choice, but also to give you tools and resources to make your NETWORK a safe space for only those who are worthy of entering. Join me for “Who’s In Your Network”

Thursday, May 2nd at 1pm ET (10am PT).

Please reserve your spot here: https://bni.synduit.com/WN0001

referral coincidence

A Referral Coincidence?

In this video, I share a story about a referral coincidence.

Understand the process of building relationships. It’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important, but the ones that you turn into lasting relationships. You’ll always get better results trying to deepen relationships with people you already know than starting relationships with strangers.

Luck is where persistence meets opportunity.

When it comes to networking, “luck” is where persistence meets opportunity.  There is no coincidence about repeat referrals.  It comes because every day you execute the activities relating to building referral relationships.  Although it can’t be measured as easily as tracking cold-call ratios – the results are dramatic and almost never coincidental.

A misconception occurs when someone focuses on the referral rather than on the relationship that produced the referral. Networking is not about luck, it’s about relationships. No one person is likely to turn your business around. However, by building relationships with a diverse group of business professionals over time, they can make a difference together.

Your networking results are an indication that the system of building relationships is working. Not that these referrals were basically coincidences. It is no more coincidental that you receive referrals from the people in your network than it is that a fisherman casting a net catches fish. The fisherman concentrates on his action of casting the net, not the individual path of one of the fishes that swam into it. If he did base his decision on that one random fish he would quickly come to the conclusion that it was a coincidence.

Click here to watch this video

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