Networking Tactics Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
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

International Networking Week 2019

International Networking Week 2019®

International Networking Week 2019® is an initiative of BNI®. International Networking Week 2019 will feature a number of networking events across the world!

The 2019 International Networking Week® is just around the corner. Therefore, it’s time to build a powerful personal network. Invite your best client to your BNI chapter or to your networking mixer during February 4 through 8, 2019. Check out the promo video for next year’s International Networking Week®. #BNIINW19

Are you planning on participating in the 2019 International Networking Week®

Therefore, join us for the 12th Annual International Networking Week® on February 4-8, 2019.

This Year’s International Networking Week 2019 Theme: “A New World of Opportunity!”

Please watch this video to learn about INW and how you can invite your best client to your BNI chapter during this week. In addition, opportunities occur anywhere for referrals.

The goal of International Networking Week® is to celebrate the key role that networking plays in the development and success of businesses across the world. Therefore, simultaneous events are held globally to celebrate International Networking Week®. In conclusion, for more information or to promote your local networking event please see internationalnetworkingweek.com

end a conversation

How to End a Conversation Without Offending Anyone Around You

I often get asked about the best way to end a conversation in a networking situation. Candidly, I think the answer is pretty simple. So, I’ll start this piece with the “simple solution.” In addition, for those of you who love to over-think things, I’ll give you some other “exit lines” options below.

The Simple Solution Saying

  1. Simply say something like, “It was really nice meeting you. Do you have a card so I can have your contact information? Thanks.” That’s it. Do not apologize because you have to go network and definitely do not say you see someone else you need to talk to. Simply thank them, end a conversation, and move on.
  2. Frame what you liked about the conversation or recap part of the conversation that you found most interesting and then state your simple solution saying above.
  3. If they say something that makes you think of someone else they should meet — tell them and promise to make an introduction.  If the other person is there at the event, make the introduction on the spot.  Being a “connector” at a networking event is always a good thing.
  4. Invite them to participate with you in another networking meeting you go to regularly, such as BNI. They may want to get out and meet more people. This is a great chance to connect them to another network of individuals and it gives you a chance to meet them again at your next BNI meeting.

The Exit Lines

For those of you who want more ways to end a conversation — I’ve read all kinds of “exit lines” and unless they are absolutely true — I don’t recommend most of them. Whether you’re ready to wrap it up immediately or have time for courtesies, here are a handful of efficient exit lines. Keep it simple and keep it honest. OK, you want to know what some of those other lines I recommend to end a conversation are — here you go:

  • I’ve got to get home by “X” o’clock to have dinner with the family
  • It’s been nice meeting you, I need to run to the restroom
  • I’ve got a deadline on a project and I need to take off

Anything similar to the above suggestions is fine but don’t fib. If you really have to leave and do something tell them. Otherwise, simply doing what I say above in your simple solution saying will work fine to end a conversation without offending anyone around you at your networking events.

Whatever you do, don’t “Seinfeld it.”

One of the really funny things on the old TV series Seinfeld was how the characters would go off on some crazy, complicated subterfuge or ruse and end up getting in more trouble than if they had just been candid to start with. Be polite, but be honest and direct. “Seinfeld-ing it” almost always fails and both you and the other person end up uncomfortable.

Remember: Don’t overthink it. Be polite and friendly. Don’t make excuses and politely move on. The real key about ending a conversation is how you follow up! 

Desperate Networkers

4 Desperate Networkers

Desperation is not referable. When people demonstrate certain behaviors as part of their networking efforts, it’s a tell-tale sign of desperation. Here are four types of behaviors that desperate networkers exhibit:

Click here to watch this video

The Card Dealer

This is probably the most common form of desperation that I’ve seen over the years. The Card Dealer is a person that darts around the room passing out cards like they’re at a poker table. They don’t spend time really getting to know anyone (unless they think they can get something from them). To the Card Dealer, networking is mostly a numbers game. The more people they can pass their cards to – the better they’re doing (or so they think). Card Dealers tend to have a network that is a mile wide but an inch deep because they don’t spend time building relationships. It never works in the long-run and they just look inexperienced, frazzled, and yes – desperate.

The Space Violator

Here’s the guy that thinks the closer he gets when he’s talking to you, the more you’ll be interested in what he’s saying. Nope. Not true. In fact, it has the opposite effect (especially if his breath has the aroma of a smelly camel). So, what’s the right distance to stand from someone without getting into their personal space? The answer to this question varies based on the cultural standards of the country you are in. In North America, it’s fairly common to have conversations at roughly “arm’s length” for people that you meet at a networking event. From my experience that distance is definitely less in some countries around the world. What’s also interesting is the issue of gender and personal space or “proxemics.” According to a “Journal of Psychology” study, “male-male pairs tend to interact at greater personal distances, whereas female-female pairs tend to interact closer.”

The Premature Solicitor

This is the person who confuses networking with direct selling. They meet you and immediately go into sales mode. They want you to do business with them without asking questions about you, your business, your interests, or your needs first. To this person, everyone is a target and every target is a dollar sign. These people are the reason why many individuals don’t like to go to networking events. They go to meetings and feel slimmed by people soliciting them for business. They leave the meeting and run home to get a shower.

The New Best Friend

Follow-up with the people you meet at a networking event is important. But be a professional – not a stalker. The New Best Friend is the over-eager seller who after you meet at a networking event – calls you, emails you, social media messages you, and tries to become your New Best Friend in the space of just a few days. Generally, they’re not actually trying to help you – they simply want to sell something to you. Granted, they may want to sell something to you because in their mind – it’s only to “help you,” but it’s never really about you. It’s about what they want from you. Desperation seeps from their pores. I’ve experienced this many times over my career. The one that stands out the most in my mind happened a couple years ago. I met a young man (late 20’s) at a networking event and he went right into “New Best Friend” mode – calling several times, emailing every day, messaging me on Facebook etc. But when he wrote me and said that he thought of himself like my son (yes, seriously – he said that) and he needed my help in his business venture – I had to pull the plug. I tried to pull it gently by talking about the importance of establishing credibility before pitching something and that the process of developing credibility takes time. Curiously, my “new son” abandoned me.

Desperation is not referable. Remember these behaviors when you go to networking events and whatever you do – don’t demonstrate these behaviors yourself. Remember that networking is more about farming, than it is about hunting.

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.

Lowest Common Denominators

Lowest Common Denominators (LCD’S) in Your Weekly Presentation

When you want to nail a presentation, start by explaining your lowest common denominators, or the most immediate, universal value of your business.

If you can break your business down to its smallest components and focus on just one aspect of your business in your weekly presentations, it works much better than providing a laundry list of things you do, or a vague and meaningless term like “full-service.”

For instance, a real estate agent might do 60-second presentations about first-time home buyers, condos, single-family-homes, investment properties, house flipping, downsizing your home for empty-nesters, buying a larger home for a growing family, the communities you focus your business on, and so forth.

No matter what your business is, you know enough about it to break it down in the same way. If you do a whole series of LCDs over the course of a year, by the end of the year everyone in your chapter will know so much about your business that they can give you great referrals.

When it comes to telling people about what you do, the deeper you go into the specifics the greater your success will be.  In this video, I talk about how to explain and promote your business by breaking it down into its Lowest Common Denominators .

LCD’s

Many years ago, I visited a BNI meeting where I witnessed the absolute best presentation I’ve ever heard at a weekly networking meeting and it was given by a florist who focused on the details of a single rose. Watch the video now to hear the story of what the florist did and said that made his presentation so successful and to learn why specificity is key in talking about exactly what it is that you do.  If you belong to a strong contact network where you give weekly presentations, the more specific you can be in explaining the aspects of your business, the greater your results will be.

If you struggle to come up with talking points about your business at your weekly networking meetings, this video is for you.  I offer a simple strategy for pre-planning your presentation topics for an entire year–never again will you have to wing your presentations because you’re not sure how to describe what you do.

So, what aspect of your business are you going to focus on at your next networking meeting?  Make up a quick list of ideas for LCD presentations right now. Share your list–and your stories of how LCDs worked for you. I’d love to hear about it.  Please share your thoughts in the comments below.  Thanks!

Body Language

The Ideal Body Language When Networking

Body language can be a powerful attractant or deterrent when it comes to building relationships with others. People assess you visually within the first few minutes of meeting you. I’ve been asked a lot about body language by the media over the years. Here are some of their questions along with my answers relating to the use of body language in networking environments.

1. What can you do to increase your confidence and to come off as warm, friendly or knowledgeable to others?

People over-think this issue. The answer is pretty straightforward — be more “interested” than “interesting.”  When you are meeting people, practice being an interested interviewer and an active listener. Learn about them and during the process make sure that your facial expressions match that interest. Don’t look bored — look engaged. You can do that with a smile, appropriate reaction to a comment or a few nods (but not like a bobblehead doll). Also, use your eyebrows to show your reaction to comments. Do this in an authentic way. If you really show interest in other people, you will be amazed at some of the stories you hear and people you meet. You will also make a great impression on these individuals. All of these things will help to make you look warm, friendly and confident.

2. What is the latest reputable science saying about hand gestures and how they effect the way we’re perceived by other people?

In a study done by Holler and Beatie, they found that gestures increase the value of someone’s message by 60 percent! They analyzed thousands of hours of TED talks and found one striking pattern. The most-watched TED Talks were done by people who used effective hand gestures.

Specifically, they analyzed the top and bottom TED Talks and found that the least popular TED Talks used an average of 272 hand gestures during the 18-minute talk, and the most popular TED Talks used an average of 465 hand gestures during their talk — or almost double!

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