Online Networking Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
The Great Acceleration

The Great Acceleration

As many parts are of the world are coming out of “The Great Pause”, they enter the next phase. I am going to call this, “The Great Acceleration”. Businesses are restarting very soon in these areas. However, things will probably be different for them post-pandemic. Here are three topics I discuss in this video.

“The Great Acceleration” 

Here are my answers to the three questions that I was asked recently while interviewed on a morning television show:V

1) How has networking changed forever after the last year that we experienced?

The technology that exists today saved a lot of businesses all around the world. We learned, during the past year, that we can network online almost as well as we did in person. I do not believe networking has changed forever. It will take time to re-adjust. However, I think that a few years from now, the world will look very much like it did before 2020.  

2) Will face-to-face networking ever be a thing again?

Because of evolving technology, I believe business networking will become a hybrid of online and face-to-face. Online networking helped to keep old friends and business contacts connected last year. Online networking is more convenient. However, it lacks the ability to make a personal connection and you’re not able to read body language as well.

Someday, when we have the technology, we might have mixed-reality meetings or holographic meetings. If so, I want to be Obi-Wan Kenobi.

3) In the meantime, what can people do to make their career and business networking more impactful?

  • Use “Breakout Rooms” when you’re networking online with a large group to have deeper conversations with a couple of the attendees.
  • When having an online one-to-one, have food or beverages delivered to the other person ahead of time to share together while apart during your online meeting.
  • Use the G.A.I.N.S. exchange to share your goals, accomplishments, interests, networks, and skills. Plus, have a meaningful conversation.

Today, more than ever, you need your network. You need people around you to help and support you. Givers Gain® is a powerful philosophy that is focused on cooperation and collaboration. It’s an approach that involves helping other people over time, and by helping them, they will help you in return. Your network can help you weather almost any storm. You can get frozen by fear, or focused by fear. During “The Great Acceleration”, your “hybrid” networking is your beacon of hope in a sea of fear.

your C.P.A.

Do Not Allow Your C.P.A. To Ruin Your Business

We are living in a world more connected than ever. However, this hyperconnectivity can create situations when your C.P.A. can effect your business. Working from home can easily lead to a state of “Continuous Partial Attention” (your C.P.A.). This occurs when people are only partially paying attention to others during their online networking or Zoom meetings.  There are some definite pitfalls in our hyper-connected world when we are not giving our full attention to others. Your business relationships and networking may be affected because of your C.P.A. in these three situations.

Monitor your C.P.A. when attending your online networking meetings

Continuous partial attention can hamper your relationship-building efforts – on both a personal and professional level. When attending an online function of any type, it is becoming increasingly common to find people typing away during the meeting. They remain connected to their emails and social media networks during their meeting. This desire can dilute our efforts by driving us to stay “live” online with other things instead of with the person in front of us. You can easily watch them on camera not paying attention to the meeting. Even worse, they fall asleep in their recliner during the online Zoom meeting with their camera live for all to see until they are awoken by another chapter member calling their phone.

Keep your C.P.A. away from your phone 

Speaking of phones. We have probably all experienced being in conversation with someone at an in-person networking function and getting pinged during the conversation. This is happening much more now during online meetings. When we take our attention off what is happening in front of our nose to take a look at what is happening on our phone, we lose the connection with the person who is presenting. We will not remember this part of the conversation well, if at all. And we send a subtle message to this person that he or she does not matter as much as the various pings coming in on our mobile device do.

Our desire to connect and be connected is one of the strengths of business networking. Therefore, when doing online networking, or when we return to in-person events, we will want to effectively be connecting with others. Over the years, I saw people many times on their phones texting during networking meetings, such as at a BNI chapter meeting, a Chamber of Commerce luncheon, or even a gala dinner event.

Be honest: whom do you greet first when you get up in the morning — your spouse, kids, the dog, OR your virtual community? Do you reach for your phone before you even throw your legs out of bed to get up? I have found myself doing that. Consider waiting to look at your mobile phone until after you are ready to receive messages. For me, I wait to turn it on until after I am up, have exercised, showered, and had my breakfast. Furthermore, I think social media is great. I use it regularly to stay in touch and build relationships. But knowing when to focus on your networking and not your phone is extremely important in this digital age.

Do not allow your C.P.A. to distract you when working online

Most of us work from our computers, laptops, or tablets with notifications switched on. Our email, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Teams, and WeChat accounts are sending us notifications. Across your screen, they distract you with their messages. “Look at me! Someone retweeted you! Someone wants to be your Friend!” Even people who do not have ADD are working in a state of attention deficit due to the distraction all these notifications cause.

It is very easy to lose track of whom you have just followed up with. You end up sending your follow-up email twice. You reference something you were discussing with someone else. Worse yet, you send an email to the wrong person entirely. (Who hasn’t done that?) Continuous partial attention keeps you from being alert, attentive, and focused and can hamper your post-event follow up not to mention your day-to-day activities.

Don’t allow your C.P.A. to ruin your business. Continuous partial attention can hamper your efforts to build profitable business relationships with the people you want to connect with. I believe a price is being paid by how this constant connectedness is affecting our real-time relationships. The truth is that our brains are not capable of multi-tasking. Brains don’t work like a computer, which can have many programs running simultaneously. Our minds have to switch among tasks. Some of us can task-switch extremely quickly, seemingly multi-tasking, but we are not actually multi-tasking. Others of us task-switch with a little more difficulty, making it extremely challenging to really pay sustained attention to anything when we try to multi-task.

cannot remember

I’m sorry, I cannot remember your name

What do you do when you meet someone and you cannot remember their name? That can be embarrassing. I have observed this many times over the years during networking events. I have also observed the different ways others have dealt with forgetting someone’s name. Some have just faked it by engaging in a conversation hoping to get a clue. They try to remember where the other person was from or how they knew them. On the other hand, I have heard people come right out and say, “Hey, I’m sorry I forgot your name” or “I’m sorry I do not remember where you’re from”.

In this video, I share a story from one of my blog readers which describes a scenario of this very nature and I answer his question of what I would have done if I were in the same sticky situation.

What not to do when you cannot remember a name

If it happens to you, I recommend that you do not say, “I’m sorry, I forgot your name” or “I don’t remember where you’re from”. I have found that people sometimes take it personally that you can’t remember them. No reason to embarrass yourself and embarrass them because you don’t know who they are. They might begin to avoid you because you did not recognize them earlier.

Finally, you do not want to say, “Nice to meet you”. Even if you do not remember meeting the person, they clearly know you, so you are most likely not “meeting them” for the first time.

What to do instead

When you forget someone’s name, I recommend saying, “Hi, good to see you”, then strike up a simple conversation to help you remember based upon the current situation or event you are attending. Starting a dialogue is a great way to shake up the gray matter in your head to try to remember who they are. If you still cannot remember after conversing a while, it’s time to stop trying and move along. Before leaving tell them, “Hey, it was nice to see you again. Gotta run. Talk to you again next time”.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will help you to remember people’s names–and it actually works!

OK, not remembering someone’s name has happened to me too. Saying “good to see you”, then engaging in a dialogue is a great approach to remember their name. If you absolutely do not want to use this technique, a fall-back approach can be one that someone once shared with me: “Sorry, I’m having a total ‘Senior Moment’ and I don’t recall where we’ve met”. Feel free to use that if you do not feel very brave with the “good to see you” approach. However, be prepared for some bruised feelings.

If you’ve ever been approached by someone and drawn a complete blank trying to remember their name, or even where you know them from, you know how awkward and embarrassing that situation can be. Finally, always wear your name badge when networking in person so that the people you meet can easily remember your name.

Zoom

The 12x12x12 Zoom Rule

What is the 12x12x12 Zoom rule? In 2010, I introduced the original 12x12x12 rule when attending in-person networking events in my book, “Networking Like a Pro”. Ten years later, with all of us using our computers for online networking, I adapted the 12x12x12 rule in 2020 for Zoom.

What do you look like 12 feet around you?

Since everyone is broadcasting from home these days, it is important to pay attention to the setting of your personal meeting location. Make sure what people will see behind you is as professional as possible. Remove the visible clutter around you and close the door to keep your kids, or cats, from interrupting the call. If you are using a virtual background, choose something related to your industry. However, keep the background photo professional, like bookshelves or an office setting. Do not use a tropical beach background, unless you work on a beach or as a travel agent. Remember, your background says a lot about you. Hang a solid-colored green sheet behind you as an easy green screen when using a virtual Zoom background.

What do you look like 12 inches away from your web camera?

Have you dressed appropriately for the meeting? I mean, are you FULLY DRESSED for the meeting with both a professional top and bottom? Too many stories have been shared on the TV news about people getting up from their chairs and being caught in pajama pants, athletic shorts, or unfortunately even less. I’ve been known to wear sweat pants on camera but never wear something (or not wear enough) that would end up with you on the TV news. Make sure your hair is combed and you are not eating on camera. Plus, be prepared with a pen and notepad to take notes.

What are the first 12 words out of your mouth on Zoom?

This is the most important point. Have you thought about what you are going to say to someone else at a networking event? The worst time to think about what you want to say is when you are saying it. Think about concise ways you can get your points across: what you want to say about your business, your target market, the benefits of your product or service, etc. Finally, use a microphone so that everyone can clearly hear you

Before you log in to your next online networking event or Zoom meeting, remember these tips, and verify that you are following the 12x12x12 Zoom rule. 

Ice Breaker

Small Talk: The Mighty Ice Breaker

One of the most important aspects of networking is the small talk that occurs at networking functions. The small talk acts as an ice breaker to open up the initial conversation between strangers. This initial conversation is important. It is the first opportunity to grow a mutual connection that may lead to future referrals.

Locubrevisphobia

This big word is the fear of making small talk, often resulting in the sufferer avoiding social and networking events. Many people simply dread the thought of having to carry on conversations with people they do not know. It is easy to label these people as shy. However, only a small minority of people are too shy to enjoy talking with others. Most people are not afraid to talk; they are just intimidated by the task of finding something to talk about.

For this reason, business owners need to stay on top of pop culture and current events. The latest issues and stories in the news are great ways to break the ice and help you find common ground with a person you may never have met before and with whom you may not have much in common. But with the media explosion, it’s increasingly difficult to have a firm grasp on water-cooler talk, particularly when it comes to conversations with people in different age brackets. So, how do you start — and maintain — a conversation at a networking or other event with someone you don’t know at all?

Just ask questions as an ice breaker

This sounds simple because it is. A great way to get people to talk is to ask a few “feeder” questions that will help you learn what the other person is interested in. Simply hone in on that subject. You don’t have to know anything about the topic to converse about the topic. You just have to know enough to ask the questions.

It’s easier you think. Online news sites have set up their pages with easy-to-read convenient categories, such as Top News, Sports, Entertainment, and Tech. Either at night or first thing in the morning, just take a few minutes to read the headlines, and maybe the first one to two sentences. You’d be surprised how much you can learn about “what’s hot” from just a cursory glance. You have enough information to start asking questions and conversing with someone new.

Make the other person feel like an expert

I still remember when I realized the value of asking questions and letting someone answer them. I was flying for business, and just before taking off, I struck up a conversation with the person seated next to me. I’m not sure what started the conversation, but I wasn’t familiar with the business he was in, and I asked a question. That question led to another, then another until the end of that two-hour flight. I realized that he had “small talked” during the entire flight. We made a good connection, I had learned something new, and, as we were gathering our belongings, he complimented me for being a good conversationalist.

A savvy networker, Susan RoAne, reads the sports section in her newspaper from cover to cover every single day, even though she has zero interest in sports. “Why on earth would you subject yourself to this?” I asked her, as I am admittedly not a sports fan, either. She replied, “My networking functions are primarily attended by men. I don’t want to stay on the sidelines while important conversations are going on, conversations that invariably start with a discussion about last night’s game.”

Take a few minutes each day to browse enough headlines to arm you with enough knowledge of current events, pop culture — and yes, even sports. Use this knowledge as an ice breaker to ask questions and get conversations flowing. Using small talk is simply a good networking strategy. As a bonus, you’ll learn a lot from these conversations you might never have learned otherwise.

elephant

How to Network with the Elephant in the Room

Experienced networkers understand that networking is not always a perfect 100% satisfaction guaranteed activity. A member can sometimes have a problem with another person in their networking group. However, instead of talking with this person to resolve the problem, the member avoids this person due to their personal discomfort, and the unresolved problem can grow into a larger situation. Now, the situation has created “the elephant in the room”, which could cause drama within the networking group.

Drama can occur in any group where wide varieties of people and personalities interact. This is also true in business networking groups that meet weekly for in-person or online meetings. If the physical avoidance between these two members is obvious to others at the networking meeting, the negativity from the situation could be felt by others in the group as “the elephant in the room”, potentially causing drama within the group.

What is “the elephant in the room”?

The elephant in the roomis defined as “a metaphorical idiom for an enormous topic or controversial issue that is obvious or that everyone knows about but no one mentions or wants to discuss because it makes at least some of them uncomfortable”. The member, due to discomfort, ignored the initial problem with the other person and avoided them during the group meetings. Therefore, the unresolved problem grew into a larger situation that became very obvious to the other members of the networking group. The initial problem between these two members evolved into “the elephant in the room” for the entire networking group. So, how do you tame and remove the elephant? Here are three of the most common situations why a networking group might have “the elephant in the room” and my suggestions for gracefully taming each of them:

Elephant #1: Poor Referrals

The reason for joining a networking group is to build strong relationships with the members to refer business to one another. Normally, this is a win-win for the member receiving the referral because their business grows with a new client, as well as a win for the member who gave the referral because of Givers Gain®. However, a small percentage of referrals may be poor referrals. They take up time but do not result in closed business. When something goes wrong and a member receives a poor referral, this can create the first elephant.

People who are experiencing a problem with a fellow member tend to talk about the problem to other members instead of talking directly with the fellow member that they are experiencing the problem with. This can actually make the problem worse.

Talk with the member giving you poor referrals.

In most of these situations, nothing was wrong with the actual referral. Usually, the problem was simply caused by miscommunication. Do not perpetuate problems by avoiding open, honest communication with others. Take the time to talk about it in a non-confrontational way. Talking right away will avoid making these awkward situations even worse.

Elephant #2: Personal Disagreements

Networking would be so much easier if people were not involved. Although networking is all about building relationships with people, personal disagreements are inevitable and problems occur. Avoiding each other due to discomfort and not talking with each other to resolve the disagreement creates the second elephant.

Focus on the solution rather than on the problem.

If you only focus on the problem, you become an expert on the problem. All too often, when facing a problem, the first thing we tend to do is focus on the negative situation. This tends to move us further from finding a way to fix it and that does not help the problem.

You must begin to start focusing on ways to resolve the situation by focusing on solutions. Rather than react, take the time to fully analyze the problem then make a list of possible solutions. When we think of ways to overcome our problems, we are prepared for the next problem down the road. Often, all that is needed is honest and direct communication between the two members to solve the disagreement.

Elephant #3: Breakups Between Members

Networking groups tend to attract like-minded people. Sometimes they bring two of their members together for more than just business. Over the years, I have known many couples that dated, fell in love, got married, and started a family together all because they first met at their networking group. On the other hand, this can quickly create the third elephant if the relationship ends badly and the two members remain in the same group after the messy breakup.

Take the higher ground and continue to network.

Given the value of your network, it is worth working through those feelings if you find yourself in a breakup with another member of your networking group. Do not lose your network of valuable referral sources you have built. The more professional you remain following the breakup, the higher your regard will be by your group. Therefore, remember not to talk badly about the other person or discuss the breakup situation with other members of the group.

Whatever the reason, many people involved in business networking may one day face a situation with “the elephant in the room”. Remember not to focus on growing the problem but on growing your business. Do not burn bridges with people in your group by avoiding them or the uncomfortable situation. Instead, talk to them about your concerns. You never know what the future will bring. You might end up being friends and valued referral partners with the former elephant.

definition of networking

My New Definition of Networking

One word that has had multiple definitions over the years concerning business growth is networking. For some business owners, networking was defined as compiling a huge database of names, usually by collecting business cards. Other entrepreneurs defined networking as the opportunity to meet people and personally prospect for business. Still, other businesspeople defined networking as nothing more than schmoozing and boozing, with no specific intention except to be seen and socialize. Therefore, I needed to consolidate these various thoughts on the definition of networking based on my experiences into one definition of networking:

“The process of developing and using your contacts to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve your community”

This definition stood the test of time for many years. However, times have changed. During the past nine months, business people have survived the most challenging economic time since the Great Depression. I realize that my definition of networking needs to evolve to reflect our changing times and business climate. There are some truths to retain from my original definition of networking. However, a few concepts need updating.

“Using” updates to “Activates”

The word “using” sounds rather harsh with the negative concept of “using” someone for something. However, when one “activates” others, the engagement becomes interactive and inspiring to take action together. The word “using” implies an action like a one-way street, while the word “activating” implies an interaction like a major two-way highway.

In these changing times, we need to be more inspiring and engaging when networking. Entrepreneurs who “activate” their network have higher networking results than those that are “using” someone.

“Contacts” updates to “Relationships”

The word “contacts” is an impersonal term for the names in one’s database. However, we cultivate genuine and authentic positive “relationships” with the people we feel are important to include in our network. Our “relationships” are something that we build together over time.

Networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Commit to mastering what it takes to efficiently and effectively harness the potential in your “relationship crops” and you will reap a bountiful harvest of mutually satisfying relationships and sustainable growth in your business.

Includes “Online Networking”

In 2013, I wrote a blog about the beginning of online networking and recommended the importance of integrating this type of networking into your overall referral marketing strategy. I did not predict back then that seven years later the business world would be experiencing “The Great Pause” and we would all be working from home.

In 2020, in-person “face-to-face” networking came to a halt because of the current health situation. Many governments banned indoor group events. Even if you cannot go to your usual places to network face-to-face with others at mixers, meetings, or social events, you can still take action and build up your networking online.

Online networking provides many ways to connect with others, even if not face-to-face. In BNI, back in March 2020, we switched all 9,500 of our BNI chapters from weekly in-person meetings to online Zoom meetings as we embraced online networking. The goal is still the same as with in-person networking.  We focus on developing strong relationships with others and activate them to inspire others to support our businesses.

Online networking works! Our BNI members have already helped their fellow BNI members generate over $11.7 billion US dollars in revenue so far in 2020, resulting from over 8.6 million referrals exchanged. Therefore, amid these challenging times, referrals generated from online networking are helping many businesses stay open.

My new definition of networking is “The process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge, expand your sphere of influence, or serve the community”.

The changes may seem small, yet they are significant. I needed to modify my definition of networking with these updates. I believe this is a better representation of the concept of networking these days. Successful networking is about helping others as a way of growing your business. The people you help are more willing to help you or connect you to the people they know. Through networking, you can build a referral-based business by activating your relationships either online or in-person.

By simply changing a few words in my original definition of networking, I created what I believe is the true meaning of effective networking. My revised definition of networking is congruent with my style of networking. The same style of networking that BNI teaches our members every day. We know after 36 years of changing people’s lives that networking works. Your local BNI community can give you, and the people that you know, the support you need to thrive. Today, more than ever, you need to be networking. Today, more than ever, you need BNI.

Networking Fundamentals

Networking Fundamentals

What is the one secret to success?  It is a question I receive often. The one secret is… there is no “one” secret.  Therefore, how can entrepreneurs achieve success? To be successful, there are four networking fundamentals that a business owner needs to focus on.

The Networking Fundamentals to Grow Your Business

  • Be Selective
  • Continuously add people to your network
  • Seek Engagement
  • Share Stories

The Secret to Success

Over my career, I have observed people with different personalities, backgrounds, and behavioral styles achieve success in life. Many times I wondered if there was a reoccurring theme running through their success stories that would clearly illustrate what creates success. Therefore, when I interviewed average business owners and entrepreneurs over the years, I asked them what they felt their secret to success was. They generally told me things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems.

I then asked many highly successful people who had obtained great wealth or personal success in business, sports, or science. They generally told me that their secret to success involved things like vision, goals, passion, persistence, and systems. Sound familiar?

Everyone I interviewed or wrote about regarding the secret to success – from Buzz Aldrin to Erin Brockovich, from average businesspeople to undergraduate college students – gave me virtually the same answer. So if we all know what it takes to be successful…

Why are we all not as successful as we would like to be?

The truth is there is no great mystery. Very often, “success is simply the uncommon application of common knowledge.”

When you hear successful people talk about the secret of their success, have you noticed that you rarely hear any real secret? What you do hear about is their unwavering adherence to some system or approach they believed in and followed with intensity and determination. Successful people focus on the goal and work through or around everything else. In sports, this is called “keeping your eye on the ball.”  They do this with a passion and a vision.

Success comes to those who have not only a passion and a vision but who also have persistence and commitment to perform the fundamentals over and over, continuing to work and learn until they can perform these networking fundamentals flawlessly. In the end, we already know what our goals are and how to achieve them. This is common knowledge, and it’s been around for a long, long time. Success is learning and practicing the four networking fundamentals.

Staying in Touch With Your Clients

Staying in Touch With Your Clients

Your business thrives by networking. Staying in touch is an important part of the networking process. Networking is much more than making contact with others and getting new business from them. The golden rule of networking is staying in touch with your clients. You strengthen your business relationships by fostering solid relationships with clients.

During “The Great Pause of 2020”, we started working from home. We created a plan to get through this situation with our businesses. Because we could not go to our usual places to network face-to-face with others, we took action and learned how to network online to stay in touch with people. Now, we need to plan on what we are going to do when society returns to the “new normal”. We need to get back in touch with those people that you have not seen or spoken with recently by focusing on strengthening these business relationships.

Here are six ways for staying in touch with your clients and strengthening your business relationships:

Spread out your phone calls.

Regular contact is important right now regardless of the type of relationship with your clients. Two short phone calls are more beneficial than one long call. Each phone call becomes an opportunity to strengthen the relationship and to enhance your credibility.

Schedule the phone calls predictably.

Stay in contact with your clients. Train them to expect to hear from you at certain times. If you usually contact certain customers during the first week of every quarter, they will come to expect it and will budget time for you.

One phone call leads to the next phone call.

Before concluding your telephone conversation, schedule the date of your next phone call. With this commitment, you are more likely to follow through. This practice establishes a chain of contacts, with each phone call leading to the next.

Assume responsibility for your phone calls.

Take the initiative and stay in touch with your customers. When clients do not feel cared for, they are more likely to leave. You are more likely to head off potential problems by staying in touch with them by picking up the telephone and calling them these days.

Invite them to your online networking events.

One way of making sure to stay in contact with your customers is to invite them to join you at your online networking events. This is a great way to introduce your customers to other people.

Stick to your plan for staying in touch with your clients

Occasionally your clients will telephone you. Do not let this interfere with your contact schedule. Do not count it as one of your prescheduled phone calls when they initiate the phone call.

People need their network, now more than ever. Maintain a powerful personal network by telephoning your clients and adopting these tips right now. You will have a stronger business tomorrow because of the actions you take today by staying in touch with your clients.

Online Networking Meetings

The Dos and Don’ts of Online Networking Meetings

The technology that exists today is great.  When I started BNI 35 years ago, we couldn’t do any of this.  We all had to quickly learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy this year. Naturally, there’s a great deal of overlap between face-to-face and online networking. However, networking online works only when you are engaged during your online networking meetings to learn about each other.  Therefore, you need to practice active listening so that you leave your online networking meetings with more ideas on how to refer your networking partners. Now, more than ever, you need your network to work together and support each other by networking online.

Seven Tips for Your Online Networking Meetings

Watch this video to learn how you can make your online networking meetings more successful:

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

It will still be a while until we can attend face-to-face networking events again. Therefore, we need to attend online networking meetings instead. Online networking meetings will never replace in-person networking, but they work well together. If you remember these tips during your next online networking meeting, you will maintain a powerful personal network that will be even stronger once we return to in-person networking again.

What tips do you have for attending your online networking meetings? I would love to read your suggestions. Please share them in the comments below.

net

Networking on the Net

Are you suffering from “networking withdrawal”, missing networking at business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. In only a few short weeks, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture, and virtual marketplace have been born. Cyber entrepreneurs, online customers, and a whole new net economy have evolved at a blinding speed.  It is no wonder so many business owners are at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the Internet and their business. The net is to the world what the printing press was hundreds of years ago. It is to the world what radio and television were only decades ago. The Internet has opened doors and opportunities these days in a way beyond anything that has preceded it.

The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking via social media and “Zoom Room” communities. These communities allow people to connect online regularly, exchange information and ideas, and get to know one another a little better. Besides, staying in touch via the Internet is our only option these days of working from home during “The Great Pause”. I’ve found the net to be a very powerful mechanism for regularly connecting with people with whom I already have a casual relationship. That’s the key–that the Internet is a great tool for staying in touch with people you’ve already established a connection with. Granted, you may do some business with people that you’ve met on social media. However, for the most part, people do “repetitive” business with people they know and trust.

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

  • Understand that your business fundamentals might need to quickly adapt to the “new normal”
  • Create a social media business plan for your online marketing
  • Develop your online networking skills
  • Update your company’s look and brand with a new website to reflect what is happening with your business during “The Great Pause”
  • Learn how to network on the internet and stay connected with platforms such as “Zoom”

Those businesses that neglect to consider these issues today will most surely be a casualty of this new technology tomorrow. But more importantly, those businesses that do consider these issues today will be the success stories of tomorrow. When done properly, networking on the net can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. Not only now while we are all working from home, but when we return to our “new normal” at the office after “the Great Pause”. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful now and in the future.

Sure, I’ve seen some business relationships begin, develop, and prosper via the net. However, I have found that most repetitive referral relationships start through personal contact and are maintained via Internet communication. We live in the Internet age, where change seems to take place at light speed. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online. If you’re in business today, you need to be on the net.

converting prospects into customers

Converting Prospects Into Customers

Your referral source has done her job and emailed you a referral. If she is a BNI member, she passed you the referral via BNI Connect. Now it’s time to contact the prospect. But be careful: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call. Remember, when converting prospects into customers, you must first build a relationship. It may take a while, but if you follow these recommendations, you’ll speed up the process of closing the deal.

Do your homework.

First, contact the referral source who passed you the referral. Ask the referral source for any relevant information. As we are currently practicing physical distancing globally and working from home, the first contact meeting cannot be a face-to-face meeting at this time. Instead, the preferred format for this first meeting is to do a video conference call. However, ask the referral source to contact the prospect on your behalf to determine if the prospect wants to be contacted by you via telephone or video conference call for the first call.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be a telephone call, do not delay. Make your first contact telephone call with the prospect within 72 hours.

If the prospect prefers this first contact call to be an online video conference call, send an email to the prospect requesting possible dates, times, and their preferred video call platform (Facetime, Zoom, MS Teams, Gotowebinar, etc..). Please confirm the time zone if the prospect if not living in your area.

If the referral source can be present, invite the referral source to attend this video conference call with you and the prospect. This way, the referral source can introduce you in person to the prospect at the start of the video call with a more thorough briefing about you, your business and your products or services.

First Contact Telephone Call / Online Video Conference Call

Before the first contact call, look up the website and the various social media pages for the prospect’s business for additional information. Review their website to understand their business better. Use these sources of information to get to know the prospect better and to prepare questions to ask about them on the first contact call.

Reminder: The purpose of your first contact call is not to make a sale or even ask the prospect if he has questions about your business. If, and only if, the prospect asks, should you present your products or services during this first contact call.

The purpose of the first contact call is to:

  • Begin to build the relationship;
  • Get to know the prospect better;
  • Help the prospect get to know you better;
  • Find out how you can help them;
  • Position yourself to make your next contact; and
  • Judge if the prospect fits your source’s description of her.

You’ve Got Mail

Within 24 hours after the first contact call, it is recommended to email the prospect with a summary of the call, fun facts about the prospect, any information requested by the prospect, a brief note of gratitude, the next steps, and your contact information.

When you start composing your email, start by naming your referral source–a name the prospect will recognize.

Writing this email gives you a better, more controlled opportunity to convey what you’ve learned about the prospect. It helps develop your relationship to let your prospect know you find him interesting enough to have taken the time to learn a few facts about him. Express an interest in meeting him again, and advise him you’ll be calling to schedule a mutually convenient appointment for the next online video conference call.

Do not attach and send your business literature with this email unless requested by the prospect. This will avoid giving the impression that you’re interested in him primarily as a prospective customer.

Make the Call

Give the prospect a week to process this email before you follow up with a telephone call. When you telephone the prospect, ask if he has any questions from the first contact call. Plus, offer to send more information via postal mail. If the prospect indicates that he would want this, send it right away. Finally, schedule a second video conference call while on this telephone call. Hopefully soon, we will once again be able to meet people face-to-face again.

Following Up When Converting Prospects Into Customers

When building relationships, it’s always important not to let much time lapse without following up on the first contact. Within two to three days of the follow-up telephone call, you should send your prospect a note via postal mail expressing your pleasure in communicating with him. It’s still too early, though, to automatically send business literature unless requested above or to make any move toward sales promotion.

So follow up early, but don’t push beyond the prospect’s comfort level. Once the prospect has expressed an interest in your products or services, you can provide information about them, but don’t force it on him. Continue presenting your products or services, but avoid the hard sell. Focus on fulfilling his needs and interests. Your goal should be to keep your prospect aware of your business without annoying him.

If you have prepared your referral sources well, your efforts may pay off on your very first call. Most often, the prospect from a referral will need more time. Many people were financially affected by the changes from the viral outbreak. Therefore, this may not be the ideal time for them to hire you for your services. They may express an interest in talking later about your products or services and hiring you when the situation improves. Be patient when converting prospects into customers.

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