Networking Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
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.


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.

Networking Mentor

The Networking Mentor

 

I have a newly revised book, The Networking Mentor, that is now available on Amazon. It was just released this week!

“The Networking Mentor” is a parable about the transformation of someone’s life because another person took them under their wing and mentored them relating to the do’s and don’ts of networking. It starts with a struggling business owner, Ken, who is invited to a BNI networking group by a business associate. He proceeds to mentor Ken and helps him learn how to network effectively and build a referral-based business. Ken’s mentor teaches him very specific strategies on how to network better and at the same time, the mentor improves his skill set as well.

Each and every one of us have people in our lives who made a difference. We all have someone in our story who influenced the path we took—or perhaps motivated us to carve our own path. These are the mentors we’ve had in our life. Their impact can be life-changing. We firmly believe in the power of mentors to make a positive difference in the lives of others. By devoting time and attention to a mentoring relationship, both parties reap deeply powerful and meaningful rewards that extend well beyond simple financial gain. As we mature and gain more experience, we have the opportunity to transition from mostly being a mentee to also being a mentor. This book is for both mentors and mentees. This book is the second edition of a book originally titled: “I Love Networking.” It has been expanded with additional chapters and graphics.

Please use this link to order your own copy of this amazing book.

https://tinyurl.com/TheNetworkingMentor

Every person that believes in mentoring new members in their network needs copies of this book. It is the story of how a mentoring relationship changed someone’s life in a BNI group. We’ve all had mentors who are in “our story”. When we talk about how our life has changed through our experiences with them, they are part of that story. Mentors can make a positive difference in someone’s life. By devoting time and attention to a mentoring relationship, both parties reap deeply powerful and meaningful rewards that extend well beyond simple financial gain. As we gain more experience, we have the opportunity to transition from being a mentee to also being a mentor. We’ve all had mentors who are in “our story”. However, there is something even more important: The real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? That’s what creates a meaningful life, and that’s why this book is for both mentees and mentors.

So, I have two questions for you.  Whose story are you in as their mentor and how have you helped someone else?  Who is in your story as a special mentor to you in your life or business? Share your story here on my blog.  I’d really like to hear it.  Post it below in the comments.

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?

Honor the Event

Honor the Event

Networking is a lifestyle you need to incorporate into everything that you do. However, I also believe that you must HONOR THE EVENT. For example, networking at a chamber mixer is one thing, while networking at a church social is completely different.

What is Networking

I believe that networking is part of the process of developing your social capital. Building your social capital hinges on the development of meaningful relationships with other people. Since one should always be working on building meaningful relationships with other people, they should always be networking. However, that doesn’t mean someone should always be trying to “sell” something to someone, because that rarely facilitates the development of meaningful relationships. Herein lies the misinterpretation of the practice of networking. Some people think that networking means to be constantly “selling” your products or services.

To me, networking means that you should be constantly building relationships. The best way to build relationships is to help someone whenever possible. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should be using them proportionately. Hence, if you understand networking to be the process that one uses to develop relationships and build one’s social capital – then it makes sense that someone should be networking everywhere – including the Church social. They key is that you must “honor the event”.

Honor the Event

Your networking must be different in a chamber meeting compared to a social event. In both cases you want to be making contacts, putting people together, helping others and building relationships. However, you should NOT be actively promoting your business in one of those two groups (hint – it’s not the Chamber). Instead, you want to focus on putting people together and helping others portion of the process.

Let me give you an example of what I mean:

Last year, I had the opportunity to attend a formal dinner put on by the “Friendly Sons of St. Patrick.” This was a black-tie social event, NOT a business networking dinner. Yet, I was able to make a great contact that ended up being immensely successful for me (and, I hope, for one of the people I met there!). At my table were seated a prominent senior partner to a major international law firm, a former member of the Beach Boys, and Buzz Aldrin. He was part of the first mission to set foot on the moon and now an entrepreneur as the founder of the ShareSpace Program! During the course of the evening, I mentioned to Dr. Aldrin that I was working on my book, Masters of Success. He’s certainly attained a well-known level of success and has some very strong feelings about the future of the space program so I thought he might be interested in sharing his thoughts in this new book. After getting to know each other better, I asked him if he would be interested in contributing a chapter to the book. He was! Consequently, he was one of the prominent contributing authors to the book.

So you can see that it is desirable to keep your networking goals in sight at all events and opportunities, without becoming a networking vulture, or someone that everyone else runs from when they see you coming! Honor the event; tailor your networking strategies so that you fit in without being tuned out.

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/

Summer Networking

Summer Networking Tips

The temperature is rising and so are your summer networking opportunities!

Every once in a while I hear a BNI member say that their chapter slows down during the summer months. I also know of many chapters that flourish in the summer with new members and referral growth! So why are some up and some down? It is a matter of gearing towards the season by refocusing on referrals during your networking activities? Build your business while traveling on vacation too.

What summertime networking activities are you attending? These may not seem like networking activities, however, you should still always be prepared.

  • BBQ
  • Block Parties
  • Pool parties
  • Picnics
  • Ball games or sporting events
  • Music Festivals
  • Reunions
  • Parades
  • Or just some summertime fun:
    Golf, Boating, Traveling, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping or Gardening?

Barbecue / Block Party Networking!

Whether headed to a holiday block party blowout or a more intimate birthday celebration for a colleague, barbecues are a great chance to meet friends of friends and expand your professional network.

Make the most of your family barbecue. Bring a few sample products to the barbecue to give out to family and friends. Who better to help spread the word for you? If you are so inclined, ask attendees to bring a new friend with them to the event. More than likely, some family members will show up with uninvited guests anyway. The more the merrier, right? Use these opportunities to get to know people and share what you are looking for. You never know who they know! But don’t break out in a sales pitch at a barbecue. Ever. People are there to have fun, relax and enjoy.

Pool Party  / Picnic Networking:

Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately! Listen to what everyone is saying at your summertime activities. What topics are they mentioning?

Are they complaining about their business? 
Invite them to visit your BNI chapter.

Are they excited about a wedding?
Share about those members in your chapter that are good referrals for them.

Do they talk about their home being too hot in the summer and it costs too much to cool?
Talk about your HVAC or solar member.

Do they want to remodel their home or need to move homes?
It’s Referral time!

Ball Game / Sporting Event Networking:

A great networking strategy is to get tickets to a local ball game or sporting event and invite BNI members and potential referral partners you know to introduce to each other. Whether your team wins or loses, great connections can be made!

Music Festival Networking:

The hills are alive with the sound of networking. Music brings people from all different types of professional backgrounds together networking through all of the music and dancing at a music festival will be a challenge, but it can prove to be invaluable. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal– utilizing networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking, so don’t overlook anyone.

Networking at Reunions:

Summertime is the time for both family reunions and class reunions. These are essentially a gathering of (potentially) dozens of people who, despite the fact that they took various different professional paths, automatically have a great deal in common and genuinely want to see one another succeed. So if you’re looking for a job, a career change, industry advice or even if you’re just hoping to network within your field, attending your reunion could be just the ticket. The question is not whether you should attend your reunion, but how you will network effectively at the reunion.

The FOUR hour “one to one” Networking Foursome!

If you are a golfer, find a fellow BNI Member who also plays golf. Set up a round of golf and you each bring a favorite golf playing client to introduce to each other as a referral source for the other BNI member. What a great way to solidify a top referral source and score a ‘hole in one” referral yourself with someone else!

If you do not play golf? Is there a summertime activity that you do that you and a fellow member can invite clients to attend? (Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping,  or Gardening)

The GOAL?

Any place you go with family, friends or strangers is a networking opportunity!

  • Bring Your Business Cards! Bring your fellow BNI members’ business cards with you to all your summertime events!
  • Remember Your Fellow Members and make a goal for one referral per event you attend!
  • Who have you met at these summertime events that you can invite to your chapter as a visitor?

Here’s to a GREAT summer in the Northern Hemisphere filled with lots of referrals! Those BNI Members south of the Equator can wait to use these tips in December or try to network on the ski slopes.

Mentor

One Time, One Meeting

My daughter, Cassie (AKA Dorian Prin – professional name), is a graphic designer and she’s working on the cover of my next book: The Networking Mentor.  I’m including a “sneak peek” of the working graphic for the cover of the book here in this article.

I was talking to Dorian about the paragraph below which is excerpted from the book:

We’ve all had mentors who are in “our story.” When we talk about how our life has changed through our experiences with them, they are part of that story. However, there is something even more important: The real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? That’s what creates a meaningful life, and that’s why this book is for both mentees and mentors.

In our conversation I mentioned that sometimes you might meet someone only once but that meeting is so profound, it can have an influence on you for the rest of your life.

一期一会

Dorian spent some time in Japan and can speak the language.  She said the Japanese have a saying that relates to this concept.  She said the Japanese phrase is: 一期一会 (ichi go ichi e).  Its direct translation is “one time, one meeting” but it probably can be translated more accurately as “once in a lifetime meeting” and is about the cultural concept of the importance of the unrepeatable nature of connections between people who meet. It is a Buddhist concept specifically tied to the tea ceremony and was the topic of contemplation for the tea ceremony she once participated in during one of her visits to Japan.

The lesson here is that you never know how the things you say may influence someone else.  Even if you only meet them once.  An off-handed comment can have a profound effect (either good or bad) on the person you are talking to.

So, I have a question for you.  What has someone said to you that profoundly affected you in business OR in life?  Share your story here on my blog.  I’d really like to hear it.  Post it below in the comments.

Wallflowers

Always Get to Know the Wallflowers

I was recently talking about networking with a good friend of mine, Dr. Mark Goulston. Mark is a psychiatrist and consultant, and he said something that intrigued me.  “People should always introduce themselves to the wallflowers in the room. Nobody attends a networking event wanting to stay in a corner and be left alone. They’re in that corner because the most technically skilled people are often socially shy.”

“You never know when you’ll meet the next Bill Gates”.

This comment really resonated with me, and it reminded me of a time a few years ago. I was at a party put on by Virgin Galactic relating to the testing of White Knight Two and SpaceShip Two. I walked outside the party and looked over in the corner by the pool where I saw a man standing by himself. He was looking uncomfortable and very much out of his element. Then I noticed who it was. It was Burt Rutan, the founder of the aerospace company Scaled Composites and designer of the SpaceShip Two. He was by himself at a party with hundreds of people celebrating the work of the company he founded, as well as Virgin Galactic.

I said to him, “It must be incredible to see this amazing, long-term vision come to fruition.”  He replied, “This isn’t my long-term vision of what the company can do.”

I’m sure I was visibly surprised, so I asked him, “What’s your long-term vision?”  He said, “Well, I believe the company can push forward past sub-orbital flights and expand to allow space tourists to do orbital flights around the earth.”  I naively said, “That’s an amazing long-term vision.” He replied, “That’s not my long-term vision.” I was really surprised and said, “Okay, what’s your long-term vision?” He replied that he felt “the company could provide orbital flights to passengers who could then stay at a hotel in space for a short period of time.”

At this point, I’m completely blown away, and I once again said, “That’s an amazing, long-term vision,” and, yet again, he said, “That’s not my long-term vision.”  At this point, I’m all in, and I’m completely fascinated with this visionary, so I again asked, “What’s your long-term vision?” He replied, “I believe we can launch flights into orbit, stay at a hotel in space, and then take flights around the moon and back. That’s my long-term vision.”

Burt was probably in his late sixties when we had this conversation, and I asked him one final question, “When do you think that vision can become a reality?” And he replied, “I think it can be done in my lifetime.”

Gobsmacked

The British have a term for what I felt at that moment, “gobsmacked.”  I was utterly astounded by this man’s vision, and I was incredibly honored to have had this opportunity to talk with him.

I founded the largest referral networking organization in the world, and I’ve met tens of thousands of people during my tenure in BNI. I can easily say that this was one of the most interesting conversations I ever had with someone at a party or networking event. Burt Rutan’s and, of course, Richard Branson’s,  vision of what can be done through their entrepreneurial efforts have left an indelible mark on me.

The important lesson here relates to Dr. Goulston’s belief that we should always look for the “wallflowers” in the room. Not every one of them will be a Burt Rutan, but I’ve found that most of them are interesting and well worth the conversation.  Just every now and then, you might meet a Bill Gates or a Burt Rutan, and that makes the effort of finding those wallflowers worth it.

Not Taught

WARNING! This is Not Taught in Schools or Colleges

I once suggested to the dean of a large university that the business curriculum should include courses in networking. His response, “My professors would never teach that material here. It’s all soft science. This is not taught in schools or colleges.”

I shouldn’t have been surprised. I’ve run into this attitude many times. We give people bachelor’s degrees in business, but we teach them little to nothing about the one subject that virtually every entrepreneur says is critical — networking and social capital. Why don’t business schools teach this subject? I think it’s because most are made up of professors who’ve never owned a business. Almost everything they know about running a business they learned from books and consulting.

The science of networking is not taught

Can you imagine a law course taught by someone who’s not an attorney? What about an accounting course taught by anyone with no direct accounting experience? Yet we put business professors in colleges with little or no firsthand experience in the field. It’s no wonder that a subject so critically important to business people would be so completely missed by business schools.

The science of networking is finally being codified and structured. Business schools around the world need to wake up and start teaching this curriculum. Schools with vision, foresight, and the ability to act swiftly (the way business professors say businesses should act) will be positioning themselves as leaders in education by truly understanding and responding to the needs of today’s businesses.

At the end of our conversation, I asked the dean, “How are courses on leadership any less a soft science than networking?” He didn’t have an answer.

Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of a strong network. They are willing to put in the time it takes to develop fruitful connections. If any of these misconceptions are holding you back, it’s time to correct it with the tips provided — and watch your business grow.

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