They’ll Interview Anyone With a Bookstring(38) "They’ll Interview Anyone With a Book"

My assistant recently asked me about something I said during a presentation. She thought it seemed to contradict what I have previously shared about self-talk and the power of our words.

In that presentation I was talking about the early days of BNI®, the international networking organization I founded, and how I tried to get some publicity by contacting the local media. They asked what I was promoting and when I said, “My company,” they suggested that I take out an advertisement.

I continued telling the story by saying, “However, I discovered that the media would interview any idiot with a book, and I have 26.”

My assistant questioned the word ‘idiot’ because it seemed incongruent with my typical positive words. I realized that I hadn’t shared the context behind that line. So now I am going to share the rest of the story.

Going back to those early days of wanting publicity for my business…

Yes, the media LOVES to interview people who have written a book. And as a new author, I sure was excited when I was invited to be on a television morning show to talk about my book!

It was an early interview and I arrived on time that morning. They took me to the guest waiting room until it was my turn to join the hosts on the set. At this point, I’m feeling great; I’m feeling really good about myself and my accomplishments thus far. I am anticipating the increased interest in my organization that would result from the publicity boost of being on TV.

And then a man walked into the room. He was completely dressed as a vampire, a full-on, unmistakable vampire with the black cape, the dark eyes, and the vampire teeth. Keep in mind, that this was not October, and it was not the season for Halloween costumes.

Well, I just had to ask. I asked him what he was doing dressed like that. He reached into his cape, took out a book, and proudly said, “I wrote a book on vampirism!”

To which I thought to myself, “They’ll interview anyone with a book.”

That is the reason I said what I said in my presentation. Every time I tell the story about getting publicity for my company through interviews about my books, I always visualize that guy. Those words that I thought back then in that waiting room are fresh in my mind and I share them when I’m telling the story.

We laughed as I told my assistant all of this and she said, “Oh, I get it now. I love it!”

It’s all about the context. Sometimes you have to share a bit more information for people to fully understand your message. 

What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear them.

Understanding Cultural Differencesstring(34) "Understanding Cultural Differences"

Today’s global society provides many opportunities for businesspeople. To make the most of those opportunities, it is important to understand cultural differences when doing business around the world.

Keep in mind that many business and networking basics are universal across all cultures. When we concentrate on similarities with each other, the differences are much less important. When we focus on the perceived differences between each other in business, that focus can become a stumbling block to developing strong relationships, which is the foundation of business networking success.

Be Prepared 

If you are traveling to another country, begin your preparation long before you are ready to catch your flight. Research your destination. Look at the general layout of the area plus the local culture, lifestyle, and customs. Read the local news and be informed regarding any current events and holidays that are occurring while you are there.

I suggest that you talk to someone that lives where you are going. You probably already have a good contact with someone who invited you to travel to their country. Talk with them prior to your arrival to review what to expect and ask them to share some of the cultural differences. I have done this consistently over the years that I have traveled as the Founder of BNI® and found it makes a huge difference in my ability to connect in an appropriate way throughout the many countries I have visited.

You may also find this website helpful. It provides cultural etiquette information for 44 countries and can be a good reference.

Top Five Tips

  1. Learn a few key phrases in the native language of the country you are visiting. Business associates will typically appreciate any honest attempt you make at communicating with them in their native language.
  2. Be conscious of your body language. Things that you do all the time may have completely different connotations in other cultures. Even handshakes might mean something different in other countries; for some it is customary to bow instead.
  3. Consideration of Personal Space. It is very important to respect the cultural boundaries relating to personal space. Some cultural dynamics are fine with close personal interaction, while more space is customary with others. Do the research and be sensitive to cultural differences in this area.
  4. Use of slang and gestures. When using slang words and gestures in a business environment, keep in mind that what means one thing to you might have no meaning, or a very different meaning, in another culture. For example, certain hand gestures, such as pounding your fist in your palm, are considered extremely rude in some cultures.
  5. Business card etiquette. Exchanging business cards is an essential part of most cultures. The business card is considered an extension of the individual in many places and is treated with great respect. It may be customary to spend time reading someone’s business card when it is handed to you. Taking it and immediately putting in your pocket, or writing on it, can be considered impolite and may be regarded as an insult.

Giving a Presentation

If you are invited to give a presentation in another country, I have some additional tips for you. First, read everything prior to this section and do your homework in those areas.

Second, if there is a translator for your presentation, talk with them well before going on stage; the day before is preferable. Show them ALL material you have, including your notes. They can review your slides or videos to recognize anything that may be offensive to the audience. They may need your help with acronyms or with slang that is used. Tell them about any hand gestures or physical moves you make during a particular part of the presentation so they can be prepared and advise about cultural sensitivity.

Here’s a particularly effective tip. Ask the translator to have someone wave at you from the booth if you are going too fast. If they say that won’t be a problem – they are a good translator, and you can speak at normal speed (but not too fast). If they say yes, they will have someone wave at you if you’re going too fast – they are likely not a world-class translator, which means you definitely need to go slow. 

Discuss any humor you may have in your presentation with the translator to make sure the story and the humor is okay. AND… pause for one to two counts after any humor because there will be two waves of laughter. First, it will be those who know the language you are speaking, followed a few seconds later by those who are listening to the translator.

(These recommendations are applicable for both in-person and virtual presentations.)

If you are presenting an in-person keynote at an event, be prepared to have your photo taken a lot. While traveling to other countries, I have found that most people are very respectful and are often very animated in their appreciation of having you attend their event.

When traveling internationally, remember that you are an invited guest in another country. Always act professionally. It is very important to consider, understand, and respect cultural differences when networking and doing business in different places across the globe. May your travel opportunities be enjoyable, memorable, and successful!

Networking – the TRUE Definitionstring(34) "Networking – the TRUE Definition"

A recent Google search for “what is networking” provided almost six billion results! We should note that those results include computer networking. However, there are still numerous definitions for non-computer networking; the people-to-people type that so many of us want to do and for which most of us have had no formal training.

As the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI® I have seen the definition of business networking evolve over the past 37 years. And yet, the essence of what networking truly is has never changed. I share my definition in this video.

My Definition

This is my definition of networking:
Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, and expand your sphere of influence or serve the community.

The Key Word

The key word here is relationships. Successful networking of any kind always begins with a genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. When someone is networking only to gain and not to give, they will never be successful.

Remember – networking is more about FARMING than it is about HUNTING. It’s about cultivating relationships and taking the time and energy to help them grow and flourish. Think of it like this: a good farmer knows when to tend to his crop and when to harvest it. If you over pick, you’ll be left with nothing. But if you continue to care for and maintain your crop, it will grow abundantly and provide bountiful results.

Business professionals who are the farming type of networker go to networking events because of the opportunities to meet new people, not to use it as face-to-face cold calling. They know the importance of meeting someone and then building a relationship with them. They go well beyond the ‘hunting’ style of meeting people simply to be able to add another name to their contact list.

Building Relationships

At networking events, set your goal to make solid connections with people so that when you follow up with them, they remember who you are when you invite them out to coffee or lunch. Practice being interested, rather than interesting. Ask about them – their business and their current projects, instead of talking about yourself. This is how you begin building mutually beneficial relationships.

Then you can schedule additional times to connect and build credibility with them. Continue to find ways to help them, perhaps introducing them to a potential referral source or inviting them to visit your business networking group. As I said earlier, there must be a genuine desire to give, not just gain, when you are building deep relationships.

Whether personal and professional, all relationships evolve through three phases: Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability. The VCP Process® is useful for determining where you are in your relationship with others. Master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the process and NOT about making a sale or closing a deal. Skipping through the phases and asking for business without establishing a relationship will almost always result in a NO answer.

My definition of networking is congruent with my style of networking. I know it sounds simple; however, as with most things in life, it may be simple and yet not easy. Effective business networking takes time AND money. The best way to network is to connect with people. Get to know them. Build a relationship and learn about their business so you can help them get more business. Successful networking is about taking the time to cultivate relationships, always with an attitude of giving.

I’d love to hear your thoughts. Share them in the comment section below.

Get Specific About What You Dostring(30) "Get Specific About What You Do"

We all know the most frequently asked question that is heard at networking events, business mixers, and seminars. In fact, we have probably asked it ourselves AND have had numerous others ask us: “What do you do?”

We’re so accustomed to the question that we hardly give a thought to how we answer it. It’s not enough simply to tell your contacts your job description: “I own and operate a sporting goods store.”

Remember, effective business networking is about building relationships. To deepen those relationships, you must talk about what you do in a way that, as author Lou Cassara says, “communicates the magic of your vision expressed through your words.”
You have to get specific when you talk about what you do.

To get referrals from your networking efforts, people must know about your business. They need to understand it in a way that helps them identify potential referrals for you when they are going about their daily lives, talking with other people that you don’t yet know.

Many new networkers make a common mistake of thinking that word-of-mouth marketing is about telling everyone they meet everything they do, and that getting more referrals is simply a matter of talking to more people. The opposite is true. In getting your message across, less is more. You want to be specific with the people you build relationships with.

Your Message

Your message should be specific without using industry jargon. You want to state it in terms of benefits to the client, not features. Remember, customers choose a product or service based on its benefits, not its features. The features are simply the facts – the elements or significant parts that make up the product or service. The benefits are its value to the potential customer – how it will solve their problems and make their life better. I know it may seem odd, but the more specific you are, the more receptive the listener will be and the better your results will be.

Keep this in mind as you create your Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Your USP is a brief description of the purpose of your business, stated in the most concise and compelling way possible, in order to help others understand the unique value of what you do.

Let’s look at a way to go beyond the previously mentioned job description of “I own and operate a sporting goods store.” 

One could say, “I deal in sporting goods, and I specialize in team sports. I have outfitted most of the high school football teams in the district, and I can order custom-fitted shoulder pads and helmets for all players at a substantial discount and have it delivered within five days. I also sponsor the local Youth Football teams.”

Now THAT is specific. It also passes what my friend, author and speaker Sam Horn, calls the “eyebrow test.” She says that when you give your USP to someone, listen to what they have to say and, most importantly, watch for the reaction they have. Sam says, “if their eyebrows don’t move, it means they’re unmoved.” If their eyebrows scrunch down and furrow together, you’ve confused them. However, if their eyebrows go up, Sam says your USP has succeeded. “They’re engaged, curious, and want to know more.”

Specific Gets Results

Too many business professionals and companies try to be all things to all people. Without being specific and telling ALL they that they do, their message is diluted and easily dismissed or ignored.

I recommend that you focus on the things you do well and document those things and your vision in a way that you can communicate to others. This will help teach your networking partners whom they can refer to you.

Ultimately, that is what effective business networking is all about – building trusted, mutually beneficial relationships that result in business opportunities for referral partners.
Have you found that being specific helps your networking results?

Don’t Stop Networking, Just Start Doing It Right

Don’t Stop Networking, Just Start Doing It Rightstring(50) "Don’t Stop Networking, Just Start Doing It Right"

I once read an article in a major online business venue. The title was “Stop Networking.” That is what the author was telling people. “Stop networking – it is so mercenary.” That is what he called it. The problem was that every example he gave on how networking doesn’t work was an example of really, really bad networking. So, he gave these really bad examples and then said to stop networking.

Instead of networking, the author said to do these five things:

  1. Focus on relationships, not transactions.
  2. Don’t ask for something before you give something.
  3. Don’t make the process about you.
  4. Strive for quality, not quantity in your relationships.
  5. Volunteer for leadership roles in the organizations that you belong to.

I would argue that ALL FIVE of these strategies are, in fact, all about networking. Networking the right way. In that article, bad networking tactics were presented as the reasons that people should quit networking altogether. Networking can be done horribly wrong, but networking isn’t bad. In fact, when it is done right, it is a fantastic way to build your business. So don’t stop networking – just start doing it right.

Relationships

Networking absolutely is all about relationships. Not transactions. I have been saying that for many years. The key to networking events is to make solid connections with people so that when you follow up with them, they remember who you are when you invite them out to coffee or lunch. When you go to business networking events and you try to sell to people, they are never going to want to meet you again.

I think many people still confuse direct selling with networking. When people use networking as a face-to-face cold calling opportunity and are trying to make a sale, networking gets a bad rap.

Giving First

The article’s second point was to not ask for something until you have given something. I wholeheartedly agree. I used the philosophy of Givers Gain® when I started BNI® in 1985, and it continues to be the principal core value of the organization. It is based on the law of reciprocity and the concept of giving to others without expecting anything in return.

I have been talking about the social capital aspect of networking for a long time. You need to invest in social capital. If you want people to be eager to meet with you after networking events, the key is to find ways to help them.

Be Interested

When I talk to people about successful business networking, I tell them to be more interested than interesting. It is not all about you. Do what you can to make a connection, especially if you are networking up to someone who is more successful than you. Rather than showing off, show interest. Ask them about their business and their current projects. Don’t talk about yourself, or even worse, don’t make a sales pitch to them the moment you meet them. We’ve all heard people say, “It never hurts to ask, right?? Wrong. It totally hurts to ask. Contrary to popular belief, it hurts to ask for business if you don’t have the relationship.

Focus on Quality

The next point is quality over quantity. The one thing that is more important than the size of your network is the quality of your network. It is a people puzzle, not a numbers game. It is about finding out about the people you are meeting with and finding ways to build deep, mutually beneficial business relationships with them.

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be successful. Instead, your network needs to be both wide and – in places, deep. A large network with multiple quality relationships makes for a much more powerful personal network.

Volunteering

The last point in the article is to become engaged in the groups that you belong do. I completely agree. If you really want to stand out in BNI or in any profession or civic network, volunteer and become a leader. It is amazing how much exposure you can receive when you are helping to run a group that you are active in.

You can gain visibility in your community through volunteering. Remember, people need to know, like, and trust you to have the confidence to refer other people to you and your business. However, it is important to remember that volunteering is not a recreational activity, it is a serious commitment.

The best way to network is to connect with people. Get to know them, build a relationship, and find ways to sincerely help them rather than using networking as a sales opportunity. You can achieve business networking success by building relationships and networking with a Givers Gain attitude.

My advice is don’t stop networking. Just start networking the right way.

Practice Givers Gain With Those Who Earn Credibility

Practice Givers Gain With Those Who Earn Credibilitystring(52) "Practice Givers Gain With Those Who Earn Credibility"

Imagine living in a world where you spend your work week meeting with highly qualified potential clients; returning calls and emails regarding quality referrals from current customers and other business associates; and having a trusted group of like-minded professionals who are eager to help you succeed. It sounds wonderful, right?

The Three R’s of Networking

Many successful people live in this type of world through the results of their business networking efforts. They know the Three R’s of Networking and invest the time to use them effectively.
Relationships – building a strong foundation with others
Reliability – building credibility with networking partners
Referrals – receiving referrals from your networking group and giving referrals to them

Giving and receiving business referrals in mutually beneficial relationships that are built on trust is what the Givers Gain® philosophy is all about. It’s about helping others, knowing that “what goes around, comes around.”

Giving opportunities to others would be a fine way to spend our days. Is it possible, though, that this giving could go wrong? Yes, we need to be aware that it can.

The VCP Process

When giving referrals, always keep the VCP Process® in mind.
You are in visibility with someone when they know you are and what you do. You are in credibility when they know who you are, what you do, and that you’re good at it. You are in profitability with someone when you are receiving referrals from them on an ongoing reciprocal basis. It takes time to move through the VCP Process.
What’s the lesson here? Practice Givers Gain with those who have earned credibility… lest it become Givers “Pain.”

This is a story about a friend of mine and a referral that turned into a painful experience.
Ryan loved boating with his friends and family during the summer. However, he found it rather “unfun” and time-consuming when it came to winterizing and storing the boat for the winter. He decided that he would gladly pay someone else to do it for him. He asked a good friend and boat dealer whom he recommended for those services. Because the friend was someone that Ryan trusted, he took his advice and hired Simon to winterize his boat. Well, Simon took four times longer than he promised, which meant the engine was not winterized by the first frost of the winter – not a good thing. He also left the boat uncovered in the rain and sleet for five days, soaking the interior. He didn’t return Ryan’s calls, compounding the bad experience.

As the giver of the Simon referral, Ryan’s friend felt terrible, yet Ryan felt that he was unlikely to take any more recommendations from him in the future.

Three Ways to Practice Givers Gain

Here are three ways to practice Givers Gain so that it will not become Givers “Pain.”

  1. Understand the disclaimer: No matter how solid the relationship you have with your referral partner, always let the person you are referring to them know that your experience with them in the past is your best indication of how they will perform in the future. No one expects you to be a fortune teller. They, too, will be surprised if a deal goes poorly if you have shown them all the reasons this person is a good choice. Nonetheless, there are no guarantees in life; we all understand that.
  2. Set the stage: Lean positively on the relationship and give the referral with accountability. If Ryan’s friend had first made a call to Simon and said, “I am going to send you someone who means a lot to me, and I need you to take care of them,“ that call could have changed everything. A personal call should be the minimum. In the example, what if all three of them met at the boat dock to walk through the expectations as a team? Would the referral have had a better outcome? Possibly. Yes, it may sound like a lot of work on the part of the referral giver, but considering how poorly this recommendation went, do you think he wished he would have done this? Absolutely.
  3. Realize that time always proves worth: I have witnessed thousands of visitors attending BNI® networking meetings over the years and am always amazed when I see members pass immediate referrals to first-time guests, and vice versa. I often hear later that some deals went poorly, or someone never followed up. There was no time investment to build credibility and prove reliability with the new acquaintance before giving a referral.

Remember, building relationships that lead to business referrals takes time. Proving yourself over and over, and over again, is the way to earn trust and referrals from your networking partners. Taking the three steps above when giving referrals can help avoid Givers “Pain,” making it a good experience for all.

Beware the Networking Disconnectstring(32) "Beware the Networking Disconnect"

Many people confuse direct selling with networking. They show up at a networking event wanting to make a sale. However, nobody attends a networking event hoping to buy something. In this video, I share a story about the Networking Disconnect.

This video is part of my Master Class from the BNI®  2021 Global Convention.

 

 

Networking is NOT Cold Calling

Unfortunately, people still use networking events as a face-to-face cold calling opportunity. They meet someone new and immediately go into sales mode. They want you to do business with them without asking any questions about you, your business, your interests, or your needs. Understandably, the people who have experienced that type of interaction at an event say that they dislike networking.

However, business networking done right can be enjoyable AND profitable. Master networkers know that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It is all about developing relationships with other professionals. They know that networking events are about moving through the VCP Process®, not about closing deals. They attend events to increase their visibility or to establish credibility with people they know. Sometimes they meet with a long-time referral partner to continue their profitable business relationship. 

The best way to network is to CONNECT with people. Get to know them. Build a relationship and learn about their business so you can help them get more business. Referral marketing works because of the mutually beneficial relationships built within the Givers Gain® philosophy of helping others.

Dont Promise Just Deliver

Don’t Promise, Just Deliverstring(29) "Don’t Promise, Just Deliver"

How are you viewed in your personal and professional networks? Are you perceived as a person of action, or merely of words? The words we say and the actions we take are part of building credibility with our referral partners. A successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, evolves over time. We go from being aware of each other – visibility, to being reliable and worthy of confidence – credibility.

I have found that there are three types of referral givers in business networking groups. Most professionals and entrepreneurs have heard the saying, “Under promise and over deliver,” and many of them operate with that attitude. There are also those who do the opposite; they overpromise and underdeliver. And then there are those who don’t promise at all, they just deliver.

Three Types of Referral Givers

  1. Overpromise, underdeliver
    Often, these people have a challenge with their credibility. They are always “working on something”, and yet they seldom bring any closed business to the table. They promise to make connections and introductions but never get around to doing so. They don’t follow through and, consequently, they often leave their referral partners in the lurch. Their words are empty promises.Here are two reasons why someone may talk a good game without doing what they said they would.- Some people just talk too much and never truly intend to do anything about it.
    – Some people are anxious and, while trying to help, they overcommit themselves.Whatever the reason, they are not helping because they are not following through. Other people judge them on their behavior and determine that they are someone who does not keep their promises, which hurts their credibility among their peers.
  1. Underpromise, overdeliver
    These are excellent referral partners to have in your network because they ask the right questions to get the best information to learn how to provide business referrals and opportunities for others. They may say something like, “I understand that you’re looking for a referral, however I need a bit more information. I have someone in mind who may be a good connection for you. I’ll contact them and keep you updated.”These referral partners don’t make guarantees or oversell the possibilities of a referral. Along with underpromising what they are going to do, they also maintain open and frequent communication about the potential referral with the members of their network.
  1. Don’t promise, just deliver
    Master networkers invest the time to build deep relationships. They take notes about people’s referral needs; they learn their networking partners’ target markets and how to talk about their businesses.Master networkers don’t talk about what they are going to do because they are busy formulating a plan based on everything they’ve learned. They work quietly behind the scenes to provide high-level referrals and ultimately closed business for others.The “don’t promise, just deliver” networkers often surprise others in the best possible way by giving a great referral that has the prospect ready and willing for a conversation about buying the product or service. They tell their referral partner, “Someone is waiting to talk to you. Here’s why and this is the best way to contact them.”

Be a Better Referral Partner

Here are some suggestions to become a better referral partner in your business network.
~ Listen to others, keeping a sincere desire to help them grow their business.
~ Take notes when they talk about their target market and how their product or service helps their customers.
~ Have regular one-to-one meetings with those in your network so you become familiar with different aspects of their company.
~ Understand the pertinent jargon of their industry so you will recognize it when you hear it, which can help you identify a good referral for them.

My recommendation for successful business networking is to move from “Overpromise, underdeliver” to “Underpromise, overdeliver” to “Don’t promise, just deliver!”

These are the people who have built their credibility by the words they say and the actions they take. They don’t make promises. They just deliver.

I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. Do you have a tip that has made you a better referral partner?

Success Disconnect

Success Disconnectstring(18) "Success Disconnect"

I love what I do. I am passionate about helping people improve their business and their networking efforts to achieve the success they desire. Sometimes I meet people who would like to be more successful, however, they are not very committed to making a change in their circumstances.

They have what I call a Success Disconnect. They want to be more successful and yet they do not recognize the connection between their desire for success and the behavior they are choosing. They may say that they would like to make more money, and minutes later say things which indicate they are uncomfortable making the necessary changes to get what they just said they want. 

A common Success Disconnect statement that I hear is: “Ivan, you don’t understand. That won’t work because…” followed by the latest excuse

Complacency in Networking Groups

Over the years, I have found that this can also happen with business networking groups.

In his book “Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap and Others Don’t,”  author Jim Collins said, “The enemy of great is not bad, the enemy is good.” 

In a business organization where strong relationships are critical for effective networking, members find that it is sometimes difficult to hold friends accountable for their performance in the group. Occasionally, successful groups will go through a slow phase and struggle with growth.

When I ask these groups why they believe they are struggling, they tend to answer with a variation of one of these themes:
~ “The group is becoming too lax; we’re not following the system very well.”
~ “We’re letting people get away with things we shouldn’t accept.”
~ “Our group is okay; we’re doing good enough.”

I have found that “good enough” eventually leads to “metastatic mediocrity.”
Accepting mediocrity is often at the core of a group that is facing challenges. When a  networking group, a person, or any organization accepts mediocrity, growth and performance stagnates. Complacency is the enemy of being great.

We Can Choose Excellence

People, similar to water, tend to seek the path of least resistance. The problem is that the path of least resistance may not be the best path to take for the results we want to achieve. When we expect the best from our fellow networking members, we will get it. If we expect, and accept, less than the best, that is exactly what we will get.
Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?

To overcome Success Disconnect, remember that we can choose excellence. Choose it for yourself and talk about it with your referral marketing group. Be willing to look for behaviors that are out of alignment with the desired outcome. Realize that overcoming the discomfort of change may be exactly what is needed to make the most of our networking opportunities.

As Jim Collins says, “Greatness is not a function of circumstance.
Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline.”

Networks Are Clumpystring(19) "Networks Are Clumpy"

Networks are cluster-like, they are clumpy. We tend to build friendships and hang out with people that are like us. The challenge with surrounding ourselves with similar people is that they also tend to have similar contacts and know the same people as us. 

This video is part of my Master Class from the BNI®  2021 Global Convention.

Business Networking Diversity

A diverse personal network enables you to increase the possibility of having connectors in your network. Connectors are people who cross over between two or more groups or clusters which allow them to easily link different groups of people together.

When it comes to business networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connection to a whole world of people that you would not otherwise get to meet. A diverse network is a POWERFUL network.

It is important to build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people with different interests and backgrounds. The only thing that they should have in common with you is that they should be really good at what they do.

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boatstring(36) "You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat"

In the 1975 hit movie “Jaws”, Martin Brody, the Police Chief of a small summer resort town in the northeastern United States, utters one of the most quotable lines in film history when he gets his first up-close look at the Great White Shark.  As soon as he sees it, he slowly backs into the wheelhouse and says to Captain Quint, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

This is the prototypical ‘Brody Moment’: a shockingly unambiguous realization that the current resources are no longer a viable option to achieve the results you’re looking for. 

I hope to explain how my Brody Moment came about.  However, the most important thing is for you to think about “your” Brody Moment as you read about mine.  Understanding your Brody Moment can help you think about your motivations and move forward successfully with your entrepreneurial endeavors.

My Brody Moment came at the end of 1985 after I had opened 20 chapters of BNI® by accident – without a plan, without even trying. That’s when I realized that I had struck a chord in the business community.

The “Why” for BNI

I was a management consultant in Southern California and I needed referrals for my consulting practice. I needed referrals for my own business, and I hoped that I would be able to refer some of my friends. So, I put together a group where we could start passing business to each other.

I had previously gone to networks that were incredibly mercenary, everyone was trying to sell to me. I went to other groups that were totally social, with happy hour and hors d’oeuvres, but there was no business happening at those events.

I wanted something that had a focus on business without being mercenary and was relational but not transactional; something that wasn’t totally social because I wanted that relationship-building aspect that led to business. Therefore, I created a network that I hoped would satisfy those two considerations. 

I wanted to merge that focus on business with the relational aspect, and the glue that would hold it together is the principal core value of Givers Gain® – the idea that if I help you and you help me, we will all benefit by working together.

That one networking group led to another and another until there were twenty chapters within 12 months! That first year, I was method-acting my way through the process; I was figuring it out as I went. I was young – 28 years old when I started the company, and I really thought most businesses had this figured out. The thing is, nobody had it figured out because we don’t teach business networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world. What I didn’t expect to find was that everyone has this challenge and that was my Brody Moment.

BNI was an example of necessity being the mother of invention and it helped a lot of businesses. At the end of 1985, I figured out that I “was going to need a bigger boat”. This way of business networking was going to be much larger than I anticipated, so I sat down and created my business plan to scale the company.

A BIG Goal

In June of 1986, I had a goal in mind. I went to the library to gather information on populations. (Remember, at that time there was no such thing as Google.)
After extensive research and many calculations, I felt that BNI could have 10,000 chapters someday.

Shortly after that, I told a friend that I thought there could be 10,000 groups someday. And he said, “10,000?” I replied, “Yeah, I think it’s possible.”
Then he asked me, “And how many groups do you have now?”
I answered, “30.”
He said, “And you think you could have 10,000?”
“Yes, I think it’s possible,” I replied.
To which he said, “It’s good to have goals, Ivan.”

Yes, it was a big goal. And every year, near the end of December, I took time to reflect. I had read the E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber early on and used that as a baseline strategy. I looked at what was working well, and what didn’t work at all.
Each year, I adjusted my plan and revisited the small goals that were all striving toward that one big goal of scaling my company into a global enterprise.

In December 2020, we reached it – BNI had grown to more than 10,000 chapters! And we continue to grow, helping BNI members around the world do business through referral marketing.

As a leader, you’ve probably experienced a few Brody Moments over the course of your career, and you’ve probably got a few more coming. What you do as a result, and how fast you do it, can turn a Brody Moment into a defining moment.

Be Passionate, Not Pushy

Be Passionate, Not Pushystring(24) "Be Passionate, Not Pushy"

Passion and enthusiasm are key components for success in business, as well as for success in business networking. However, passionate people sometimes come across as being pushy, often because they truly believe that what they are offering to someone is really going to be beneficial for them. Their excitement to share the opportunity can be overwhelming, causing others to feel pressured. When people feel pushed or pressured, they are unable to fully hear the message.  

Our Intention

Our intention plays a huge part in how we speak and interact with others. If we don’t believe in the value of what we are offering, or we come from a place of desperation, our words will sound forced or salesy. When we come from a space of love – looking to impact lives, and service – adding value to others, there is more opportunity for the other person to understand our pure intention.

When I started BNI® in 1985, I opened 20 chapters in one year. I did it without any collateral marketing materials and without today’s technology. I did it with ONE sheet of paper and that was the one-page meeting agenda that I personally typed up.

I had one other extremely important thing. In addition to the one sheet of paper, I had passion. I was passionate about spreading the word of referral marketing and passionate about my intention to help more and more people succeed in their business. I was the poster child for “ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice!”

Inviting People to Your Networking Meeting

I have seen what happens when someone invites a guest to visit their BNI or other business networking meeting. People are so passionate, that sometimes others may feel it’s pushy, when in fact, the members are genuinely excited about inviting someone to meet their group.

When we are so enthusiastic that we say, “Hey, you have to come to this chapter, you have to come and meet this particular member!” we may go a bit overboard. When we say, “Hey, I would like to introduce you to a person that I think will be a good connection for your business,” the focus is on them. By clearly sharing our intention to connect them to a particular person that is going to benefit their business, our authentic desire to help is more clearly understood.

Speaking Their Language

It is important to meet people where they are. This is especially true when you are marketing or talking with potential customers and clients. They may not be emotionally, mentally, or even financially ready right now for your products or services. However, you can plant a seed for future harvest. This is in line with the philosophy of Givers Gain® – even if the person is not ready now, we leave them in a better place than before we met them. It can be with the benefit of knowledge we shared, or an offer to make a helpful introduction for them.

We can also connect with people on a deeper level when we understand and respect their motivation and their behavioral style. We must first understand our own style, then learn how to identify behavioral styles in others, and most importantly, adapt our approach to those different styles. This allows us to communicate more effectively because we are speaking their language.

Remember, how you communicate is important. When we talk about our business with enthusiasm and energy, backed by our intention to help others, our passion shines through.

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