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Online Networking

Develop Your Online Networking Skills

When it comes to online networking, there are several ways to develop your word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s important to understand that the foundation of making online networking work for you is the same as with any kind of networking–you’ve got to develop relationships with trusted business associates. Here are a few tips about developing your online networking skills to build relationships and trust in an online environment.

Decide which social media platforms are best for your online networking.

  • Facebook: The largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. Therefore, all business Types should have a Facebook business page.
  • Instagram: This phone-based platform is completely based on sharing photos and videos. The posts on Instagram should be focused on the “Millennial” business owner as Instagram is a social media platform preferred by business owners under the age of 35. Therefore, this platform is recommended for image-based business types such as hairstylists, makeup, clothing, Realtors, and restaurants.
  • LinkedIn: This is easily one of the most popular professional social networking sites used across the globe by all types of professionals and serves as an ideal platform to connect with different businesses.
  • Nextdoor: This is a private social networking platform for neighborhoods allowing users to get connected with the people and local businesses in their area.
  • Pinterest: This visual bookmarking social media site enables you to find new ideas for your projects. Therefore, this platform is recommended for home improvement companies, travel agents, event planners, clothing, and teachers.
  • Twitter: This “current events” platform shares what is going on right now. Therefore, this platform is ideal for news agencies. Twitter also makes it possible to promote your businesses and even shop directly through tweets.
  • YouTube:  This is the world’s largest video-sharing social networking site that enables users to upload and share videos. Businesses should host their videos on this platform to be shared onto the other platforms.

No matter which social media platform you choose, however, after joining, you need to actively participate by posting content regularly to best grow your presence at the site. Post topics on threads that deal with your area of expertise. Respond to others’ postings on other threads if the subject is at all relevant to your area of expertise. The more you’re seen, interacted with and talked about, the more visibility you’ll gain on the site. If you do not have the time to dedicate to your pages, hire a social media coordinator to manage your pages. Here is mine, Brian Bentzen.

Keep in mind that it’s not enough to just create your business pages. You have to focus on building relationships with the other members online. Engage with your followers to develop real relationships with people you’re meeting in cyberspace.

Create a blog page and write blog articles.

Online networking works best when you get plenty of “hits.” You can start a blog (basically an online diary) on your website. Then, write a weekly blog article about your industry. Finally, share the link to these blogs on your social media pages. As people read your content and become familiar with you, they’ll feel like they know you and that’s integral to the networking process. Becoming an expert in an area and writing regularly about it can go a long way toward building your online networking opportunities.

Develop an e-mail newsletter for your own company.

Create a monthly newsletter about your company’s products and services. Then use a service such as “Constant Contact or MailChimp” to send this newsletter via email to your followers and clients to drive them to your website. Be sure that your newsletters contain content that has a broad spectrum of interest about your business. You might want to encourage clients and customers to contribute to your content. In doing this, you’ll build stronger relationships with them, which in turn will help you increase the number of referrals you’ll receive.

Develop online credibility.

With online networking, the bottom line is still the same as with live networking. To drive business to your company by word of mouth, you must focus on developing real, personal relationships with people. Once you’ve established that foundation of trust, you’ll feel comfortable referring people–and so will your network. The same is true with online networks, although it may take a bit longer to develop that trust over the internet. When posting online, blogging, or writing your newsletters, remember your goal is to establish trust, respect, and friendship. Please watch this video to learn some things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online.

  • Use social media to attract customers
  • Build ongoing relationships with customers online
  • Increase brand awareness for your business

Online networking gives you breadth in your networking efforts. It allows you to broaden your reach to anywhere in the world. Just don’t forget that trust and relationship building are still as important as ever. You need to build a relationship before you ask for someone’s business.

Introverts

Introverts Can Be Great Networkers These Days

Being an introvert is not a networking handicap and is an advantage these days of online networking due to social distancing and self-isolation while working from home. A common assumption is that a “people-to-person” is the best type of networker. But this isn’t necessarily true. Though introverts often eliminate themselves from networking because they aren’t good at initializing conversations, they are better at the part of networking that’s more important to the relationship-building process.

Networking is a two-part process. First, you have to meet someone new and share information about yourself. The extrovert may be better at this first part of the process when face-to-face; but the introvert is better at the second part — listening to the person he or she just met online. Plus, introverts are better at asking questions. Here are a few more tips for online networking and for working at home.

Introverts and Extroverts

So, if you are introverted, put down that book and reach out to others. Stop using that as an excuse not to network. There are many techniques you can use to make online networking easier and more natural for you to greet people and introduce yourself. Networking is a skill that can be learned — regardless of your level of gregariousness. Even if you’re not outgoing or gregarious, you can form meaningful relationships with others online and support each other’s businesses.

Furthermore, if you are extroverted, stop using your isolation from working from home as an excuse not to network. Most entrepreneurs depend directly on others and have a comfort level in dealing with people. For extroverts, referral-based online marketing is still one of the best ways to build your business these days.

Take advantage of online training workshops these days that you can do from the comfort of your home office. These can teach you how to online network effectively. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in an online networking setting.

You don’t have to be a people person to network, you just have to be willing to listen. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses each proportionally. A good networker asks questions and gets to know the other person. Once you know the other person, it’s much easier to grow each other’s business.

Networking Online

Networking Online

Because of the current health situation, a lot of us are working from home. 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.

Earlier this week, I shared some tips for working from home. Please watch this video to learn a few things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network online:

Networking Online

Take a few minutes daily to reach out to a few people each day in your network and schedule an appointment to talk to them later in the week. There are many ways to connect with others, even if not face to face. The easiest way is to pick up the phone and actually have a conversation with them. If both you and that person are comfortable with setting up a video call, I recommend connecting with them at a scheduled time on Zoom, Teams, or some other platform. Not only chat about each other’s businesses but ask how they are doing personally. Find out if there are ways you can help them. Finally, it is ok to also ask them for help. We all could use a friend these days.

Now is the time to build up your online networking with your fellow BNI® members using our newest platform: BNI Online™. This will allow you to stay in touch and attend your BNI Networking meetings virtually during these days of social isolation.

If you’re not in BNI®, we are inviting local business professionals to join us online. If you know someone looking to grow their business online during these challenging times, please invite them as our guests to our online meeting. This is a chance for them to experience BNI and networking from the comfort of their home or office.

Find a local online meeting in your area:
https://www.bni.com/find-a-chapter

Please watch this video to learn some things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online.

2020 International Networking Week

2020 International Networking Week ®

The 2020 International Networking Week ® is an initiative of BNI®. It is an opportunity for business owners to show appreciation for their valued customers and contacts from networking.

This will be a week of global recognition and gratitude from February 2 through 8, 2020 to thank those business owners who have helped you to grow your business while networking. Furthermore, this year’s action item is to recognize and thank those people in your BNI chapter, chamber of commerce,  and other networking organizations. Take a moment to say, “Thank You” in person, in your meeting, and on various social media platforms.
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The focus of International Networking Week is to bring together representatives of government, businesses and community leaders from around the world to network and to recognize the power of networking. Speakers will offer advice and information on how businesses can grow and succeed through good networking practices.
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The 13th Annual 2020 International Networking Week is just around the corner. Therefore, it’s time to build your powerful personal network now. Invite various business owners who have helped you to grow your business to your BNI chapter or to your networking mixer. Invite them to network and to recognize the power of networking from February 2 through 8, 2020. Check out the promo video for the 13th Annual 2020 International Networking Week. Please use the hashtag with your photos and posts: #INW2020

 

The 2020 International Networking Week theme is “One Million Thank Yous”

Expressing gratitude completes the feeling of connection. Many people in your life have helped you in one way or another. Therefore, have you thanked them? Consider sending a letter to someone telling them what their actions meant to you, even if—especially if—it happened long ago.   It costs little or nothing. Furthermore, it almost always follows suit that they will demonstrate their gratitude for what you do.

When you show an interest in others by noticing the good things they’ve done; they will be drawn to you like a magnet.  Therefore, it will accelerate the relationship-building process and enhance their overall impression of you.”

In conclusion, the goal of International Networking Week is to celebrate the key role that networking plays in the development and success of businesses across the world. Networking events are being held globally to celebrate International Networking Week. For more information about these international events during the first week of February or to promote your local networking event on our 2020 International Networking Week website please see: internationalnetworkingweek.com

new entrepreneur

New Entrepreneur Networking Tips

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

Become the host

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

Build your social capital at your desk

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

Offer advice to break the ice

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

Become a trusted source for quality referrals and contacts

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

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

I Want to Know What You Think Makes a Great Networker? ( Survey )

I’ve been writing about networking for more than 30 years! After all these years, I still find that there are many misnomers about what business networking should, or shouldn’t be about. Many people think that business networking is basically about direct selling. Others think that is about relationship building. What do you think makes a great networker?

Read More

It Never Hurts to Ask . . . Right?

How many times have we heard people say that it never hurts to ask? Surely more times than we can count. 

Well, in this video, I explain why it definitely hurts to ask sometimes–especially if you ask to soon!  I share a personal story of a recent time when a stranger contacted me via LinkedIn wanting to connect and accompanied the connection request with a note asking me something which I found inappropriate to the point that I decided right then that I was never even going to consider connecting with her.

Watch the video to hear the story and to find out why I flagged the woman’s LinkedIn request as problematic on three significant levels.  Let me just say that this is ‘Networking 101’ and if I were her teacher, she would have gotten a failing grade–this is not the way to network!  Whether you frequently participate in face-to-face networking, online networking, or both, you’ll definitely want to hear this story so you never make the three mistakes that this woman did.

I’d really love to hear your feedback on this.  What are your thoughts?  Also, please share any similar horror stories you may have in the comment forum below–I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks!

Using Social Media—“Navigating the VCP Process® to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.” 

TR-and-Ivan-Blue-Backgrou

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  A while ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe. Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 12–the final post in this series. Enjoy.

TRBlog1VCPpic1

Using Social Media to Navigate the VCP Process®
(Part 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , Part 4, and Part 5 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations. For Parts 6and 7 we even shared with you video trainings from the both of us.

In Part 9, we suggested some behaviors that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, as a result, we got a couple phone calls complimenting us about how that particular blog post clearly outlined what type of behaviors a successful networker should be practicing on a weekly and monthly basis – and we were asked to provide more. We fulfilled that request.

In Part 10, we addressed that ‘Mindset’ has as much to do with your success in networking as ‘Skillset’. And in Part 11 we addressed how to deliver effective Introductions & Short Presentations when Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking. And therefore, in this final installment of the series, we found it relevant to address “The Elephant in the Room” – Social Media.

Yes, as experts on Business Networking and Referral Marketing, we’ve been asked time and time again to provide our opinions on how Social Media fits into one’s own Business Networking Plan (…if at all).

So, today, let’s address this “The Elephant in the Room”. Let’s bring out into the open the question that still may be on the minds of many of our readers.

When asked about the topic of Online Networking versus Offline Networking, you may have already heard Ivan share his philosophy that “…it’s not either/or, it’s both/and when addressing this topic”.

Today, let’s dig a little deeper and give you a clearer picture on what’s meant by this, as well as deliver you actionable steps for you to take (as the title of this blog insinuates) to use Social Media to navigate the VCP Process® to networking.

Let’s get started.

An often overlooked tool to navigating the VCP Process® is using Social Media effectively. And, more specifically – Facebook.  Now please allow us to clarify. We didn’t say Facebook is overlooked! Lol.

ENTERTAINMENT vs. EXECUTION

We happen to believe that many people are actually addicted to Facebook and spend way too much time using it for ENTERTAINMENT. Whereas, they could actually be using it for the EXECUTION of a well thought out strategy.

Let’s face it. There are professionals out there who you want passing you referrals that are on many of the same Social Media platforms that you’re on. Yet, do you have a Business Networking Plan that addresses this?

Well, would you like to grasp a really quick concept that will help you address this?

For example, let’s assume an ideal referral partner for you is a CPA. And, you recently met a CPA at a monthly networking event such as a Chamber of Commerce mixer. What typically happens is that “life happens” immediately after that event and 30 days go by before you see that CPA again.

From our perspective, it’s going to take a long time to dig deep and build a quality, meaningful relationship and move through the VCP Process® with this person when you only see this CPA twelve times a year.

Therefore, today, we’re recommending you use Social Media to compliment your in-person, face-to-face networking efforts. Yes, if you take action and plan to make strategic “Touch Points” during the time between those mixers, you’ll actually be able to expedite the VCP Process®.

And, who doesn’t want to shorten the cycle from first meeting someone (i.e. Visibility) to building trust with them (i.e. Credibility) to finally getting an actual referral from them (i.e. Profitability)?

Yes, too many people are spending too much time on Social Media for ENTERTAINMENT purposes versus the successful EXECUTION of specific tactics of an overall strategy that will help them drive revenue to their business.

Today, we’d like to make a pretty good case that Social Media shouldn’t be ignored either. Social Media should be considered an intricate part of successfully following your particular Business Networking Plan.

HERE’S ONE SPECIFIC TACTIC YOU CAN USE IMMEDIATELY

Let’s assume an ideal referral partner for you is a CPA as noted above. By connecting with this person on Facebook immediately after meeting them and strategically LIKING or COMMENTING on some of their posts – you will create additional Visibility so that the next time you see this CPA it will actually FEEL like you’ve known each other longer.

Does this make sense?  We would love for you to leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.

 

Facebook

Hey, Facebook, Free Ivan Misner!

Last week, Facebook closed down my personal account as they claimed that I was “impersonating Ivan Misner.”  

While waiting for Facebook to fix this, I began thinking that there just might be an opportunity here to turn “lemons into lemonade.”  Turns out there certainly is such an opportunity.  Austin Coulson (from Riverside California) came up with a great idea. He suggested we create a social media campaign called: “Hey Facebook, Free Ivan Misner.”   We’re hoping this will aid in helping to wrestle back the social media pages that are linked to my account AND serve as a social media boon for us at the same time.  (Thanks, Austin–great idea!)  

Please take five minutes to watch this video and, most importantly, please join the group: “Hey Facebook, Save Ivan Misner” at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/829011050464326/.  I really appreciate you taking the time to help–thank you so much!

[Important Update:  Since this was published, I am very pleased to announce that Facebook has let me out of Facebook Jail!  I have my page back. I want to thank the Facebook employees who helped to make that happen.  I also want to thank the hundreds of people who assisted by joining the “Free Ivan Misner” group on Facebook.  This truly shows the power of a personal network!  Check out the video though – it is pretty funny (in a sad sort of way).]

Free Monthly ‘Networking Cafe’ Webinar–You’re Invited!

In this video, filmed at a recent networking conference in Nashville, TN, I talk to my good friend and partner in the Referral Institute®, Eddie Esposito, about the monthly Networking Cafe webinars we offer to the public.  These FREE monthly webinars offer invaluable information about how to grow business through networking and referral marketing and we often have guests on the webinar who are experts at helping people achieve business success.  Past guests include Jack Canfield, Michael Gerber, and Susan RoAne, among others.

These “Networking Cafe” webinars take place on the last Friday of each month and all you need to do to find out how to participate (we welcome you to ask questions during the webinar) for free is to visit the following link: http://referralinstitute.com/index.php/en-us/networking-cafe.

Thanks so much for watching this video and I really hope to interact with you on one of the upcoming webinars in the near future.  Also, if you have any suggestions for topics which you would love to have addressed on a future webinar, by all means, please leave your topic suggestions in the comment forum below–I’m  more than happy to address all valuable and relevant topics.  Thanks!

Simple, Compound, & Complex Referrals

In this video, filmed at a business networking conference in Nashville just last week, I talk to my very good friend and Business Networking and Sex Co-author, Frank De Raffele, about the difference between simple, compound, & complex referrals.

Frank explains the importance of understanding that there’s a certain amount of time and energy spent correlating to each different type of referral and that there is, indeed, one type of referral that is considered the ‘ultimate’ referral–the type of referral that we’re all ideally searching for.

Watch the video now to learn the difference between these three types of referrals and to learn what it takes to achieve the ‘ultimate’ referral.  After watching the video and learning to differentiate between the referral types, I’d love for you to share which type of referral category that either the last referral you gave or received fell under and the story behind you giving or receiving the referral.  Please share your story in the comment forum below–thanks!

A Burning Question for Richard Branson

Last year, My wife Beth and I posted a question on Facebook in search of the most creative and interesting answer.  The question was: “If you had an opportunity to ask Sir Richard Branson one question, what would it be?”

In this video, I reveal the best, most interesting question that someone responded with:

“What venture or company do you wish you had started instead of someone else, or what business did you have a chance to invest in but didn’t and now regret not investing in it?”

I go on to reveal the equally interesting (if not more interesting) answer to this question which I got lucky enough to receive directly from Sir Richard Branson himself during a visit to Necker Island.

Watch the video now for Branson’s answer . . . and, hey, you never know–perhaps this will be the answer to a question you get during a game of Trivial Pursuit somewhere down the road, in which case you’ll be darn glad you watched this video! 😉

I’m curious– what would YOU ask Richard if you could ask him anything?  As long as it’s not something like, “Richard, will you adopt me (even though I’m 57) and make me independently wealthy so I don’t have to work for the rest of my life?” (Ha, ha . . . :-)), then I’d love to hear what questions you come up with!  Please leave your feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

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