Online Networking Archives - Page 3 of 6 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Enhancing Your Reputation through Referral Marketing

For those of you who think the referral process is the safest form of doing business, here’s some information that may surprise you . . . the referral process is, in reality, the least safe form of doing business yet it is well worth the risk if you do it right and it can significantly enhance your reputation and contribute to the growth of your business.

In this brief video, I talk about how referral marketing can not only enhance your reputation but can also result in a “win-win-win” situation for you, the person who refers people to you, and for the client who was referred to you and ends up using your products and services.

If you have a story or an example of how referral marketing helped you enhance your reputation, I’d love to hear it so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Have You Been Overlooking This Important Step in Your Networking Efforts?

I recorded this video a few years back for an organization interested in learning about business networking and when I ran across it last week, I thought it would be good information to share here as what I discuss is still just as important as ever.

If you don’t know what a Contact Sphere is, I urge you to watch this short video because developing a Contact Sphere is one of the most important steps in business networking.  After watching the video, think about who might be a good fit for you in creating a Contact Sphere and if you have questions, please leave them in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have and, also, if you’ve already developed a Contact Sphere, please share your thoughts on how it has helped you to grow your business.

The Most Crucial Component for Referral Success

At a recent Referral Institute Conference, I was interviewed by Tiffanie Kellog (Trainer for the Referral Institute in Tampa, Florida) about the most crucial component for referral success.  Before you watch this short video where I give Tiffanie my answer, try to come up with a couple of possibilities for what my answer may likely be. 

After watching the video, I would love for you to share in the comment forum below what your initial guess or guesses were regarding what you thought my answer was going to be.  I’m very interested to see how many people had a pretty accurate idea of what I would say and how many people were completely surprised by the answer.  As always, I very much appreciate your input and participation in getting a conversation started–thanks!

Networking During the Holidays

The holiday party is a great time to meet people but . . . you should have a plan!

Everybody goes to parties, and the holiday season is full of them. It’s also a business slowdown season for many of us who are not in retail. The holiday parties are NOT just a place for free food and drinks.

Holiday parties and other social mixers bring new opportunities to network, even more than the rest of the year.   The holidays are times when we are more likely to see people in a social setting, and this setting definitely lends itself to building relationships.

Most people think of networking only in traditional networking venues, such as the chamber, strong-contact referral groups like BNI, and other business-oriented gatherings. But that’s not using the power of networking to its fullest.

It can be the best time to introduce yourself or have a friendly conversation with one of your superiors. Making an impact on someone important can be a real career booster; it could open the door for new job opportunities, promotions and/or new business.

In order to make the most of “holiday party networking,” here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Be prepared! If you’re going to hobnob, try to know whom you are talking to, what their job and role in the company are and what they’ve done this year for the organization.  Use this info as a way to start a conversation. If you know some of the people who will be in attendance, do a Google search on them.  Do some homework.
  • Ask questions. Some suggestions: How did you start the business? How did you take the business international?  How did you start franchising? What were some of the challenges with . . . ? Have you read any good books lately? (My favorite is: How can I help you?)
  • Have a “teaser” topic ready. Approaching the end of the year, every business wants to increase profits and performance in the New Year. Have an idea ready that describes how you can improve your sector in the coming year. (Word to the wise: Don’t give away the goose; set up a meeting to discuss the details.)
  • Use this introduction as a segue for a future meeting. As mentioned above, you don’t want to “end” the conversation at the party. The end game here is to open the door for follow-up. You want to be able to connect with the person after the party, one-to-one.
  • Don’t have more than a couple drinks. It’s a party, but it’s not YOUR party. You don’t want to be stinking of liquor when you approach the people you want to connect with. Impressions count. Make the right one.
  • Be confident of your value. Introducing yourself to an executive can be an intimidating experience, so give yourself an informed pep talk. Before the event, make a list of the things you’ve done over the past year and understand how what you do may integrate into discussions. Once you’ve got this down, there’s no reason you shouldn’t feel good about yourself. Consider how what you’ve done can integrate with the executive’s interests.
  • Honor the event. Make sure when networking at a holiday party–or any non-traditional networking event–that networking is supplementary to the reason people are there, so don’t treat it like a chamber mixer.  Be sincere.

Don’t act as if you’re in the boardroom giving a presentation; keep it natural and leave them intrigued. The real emphasis must be on “finesse” at a company holiday party. Yes, it is a great networking opportunity–but if you overtly “sell,” you may turn people off! After all, it is a holiday.

You can network anywhere, including events where it might not at first occur to you to try it–and, paradoxically, it’s at these non-traditional networking settings where you’ll often get the most bang for your buck.

A Closer Look at What Networking Really Means

Back in October, I posted a brief video in which Dawn Lyons, Mike Macedonio and I discuss the new definition of networking (Click on the graphic below to view the video.).  Today, I’d like to provide much more detail and further clarification regarding this new definition.

Twenty years ago, I wrote a book called The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret. In it, I discussed several terms new to the business community, specifically about how they could help grow a business.  One term that seemed to have multiple meanings concerning business growth was “networking.” For some, networking was about compiling a huge database of names, usually by collecting business cards. Others saw networking as the opportunity to get in front of people and personally prospect for business. Still others perceived networking as nothing more than schmoozing and boozing, with no specific intention except to be seen and socialize.

So in an attempt to streamline the myriad of perceptions about the concept of networking, and based on my experiences in a variety of business and interpersonal situations, I concluded that networking was, in effect: “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, until. . . it didn’t.  Since then, I co-founded an organization called The Referral Institute with two partners, Mike Macedonio and Dawn Lyons. Based on our collective experiences in helping people across the U.S. and around the world build a system for getting referrals, we realized that the definition of networking needed to evolve. The new, updated meaning would reflect the changing times and business climate.  There were definitely some truths in the original definition that needed to be retained, but a few just no longer felt right.

One we wanted to address was “using.” Today, this sounds rather harsh, even cold. People today tend to find a negative resonance in the concept of “using” someone for personal or professional gain. The other word we scrutinized was “contacts.” The term has become synonymous with one’s database. And a database is, by design, impersonal, practical and, again, rather cold.  After many discussions about modifying the definition, we came up with what I feel is a much truer representation of the concept of networking:
“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, but they are significant. When one “activates” relationships, it’s a much more dynamic, interactive, give-and-take type of engagement with others than simply “using” the relationships. Using is a one-way street, while activating is a major two-way highway. It’s just much more powerful, more true to who we are – or need to be – today, if we want to succeed at truly engaging with our relationships. People who network in this way show markedly better results than the “users.”

About the paradigm shift from “contacts” to “relationships:” For many years, I’ve talked about the “hunting versus farming” mentality when it comes to growing a professional network. The “hunters” run from one business event to another, grabbing and passing business cards with very little interaction past that, diligently add the card to their database (read: “contacts”). Then they run out again in search of more to add to the ever-growing list. The bigger the list, the better they’ve “hunted” and, in their often-misguided opinion, the better their “network.”

But let’s think of the farmers, the ones who cultivate steady, growing, genuine and authentic relationships with the people they feel are important to include in their network. They have a steady back-and-forth of interactions that benefits not only them. Everyone involved is rewarded. Why? Because the time taken to really get to know people enough to make a relationship means that when it comes time to make a referral, it’s much easier to call upon them.

By simply changing a couple of simple words in my original definition, we were able to fine-tune it into what we believe is the true meaning of effective networking. Our revised definition is much more congruent with the style of networking we teach every day, and what we know really works.

To be successful with business networking, you should understand that it is really about helping others as a way of growing your business. The people you help are more willing to help you or connect you to people they know. So in essence, networking is part of the process you go through to build a referral-based business. Through networking, you can deliver your positive message effectively. Referrals are the end result.

Authenticity Is the ‘New’ Audacity

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.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

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®.  Ten months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  In the past, we’ve co-authored the articles.  Today, I’m proud to share with you Part 10 of the series – which is written entirely by TR as a Guest Blogger.  Please comment below and let us know what you think.

 

AUTHENTICITY IS THE ‘NEW’ AUDACITY

(Part 10 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

Have you ever heard the following phrase: “It’s nothing personal, it’s just business”? 

I have.  And every time I hear it, it still disappoints me.  Today, business is personal and people do business with ME because of ME, and they should do business with YOU because of YOU – not because you perfected some PowerPoint presentation or recently attended a Sales seminar on how to overcome a prospect’s objections.

Nowadays the consumer marketplace that fuels the economy sets the criteria on how they wish to be treated.   Consequently, to society today the term ‘overcoming objections’ sounds a lot more like the following descriptive words:

  • Persuade
  • Manipulate
  • Convince
  • Coax

When it comes to buying, purchasing, or investing criteria, I don’t know about you, but the concept of being ‘closed’ and the terminology used in the Traditional Sales Model doesn’t translate that well with me – and probably society overall for that matter.  I don’t want to be ‘convinced’ of anything and my guess is that you don’t either.  If you’re interested in creating a long-term client/customer relationship, it’s my presumption that it’s probably not in your best interest to start off by persuading, manipulating, or convincing your potential client to do business with you.  Don’t you agree?

Yet the sad truth is that, today, it’s probably a safe bet that we could go to Amazon.com and search books on the topic of Sales.  It’s also probably a safe bet that we’d find hundreds (and potentially even thousands) of Sales books with their title including the words ‘Persuasion Techniques’, ‘How To Close The Sale’, and even ‘How To Overcome Objections.’  Yes, people who employ these tactics will get results.  I’ll concede that point.  But these tactics continue to reinforce the lifestyle of a HUNTER – behaviors that are long gone as conduct that small business owners and entrepreneurs idolize.

Remember, Business Networking is more about ‘farming’ than it is about ‘hunting’.  It takes time to cultivate relationships.  But once you dedicate the effort, these relationships ultimately allow you to ‘harvest’ referrals for a lifetime.  Today, people choose to do business with other people because of:

  1. Who they are
  2. What they stand for and
  3. The lessons that life has taught them through their own personal experiences that uniquely qualify them to offer the marketplace a product or service in a way that only they could deliver.

If you seek Client relationships, today’s customers aren’t just buying what you sell. They’re buying who you are.   If you seek Strategic Partner relationships, people refer other people – NOT the product or service they offer or the actual company that they represent.

When networking and getting to know other professionals, if you shy away from who you are, what you stand for, and what personal experiences life has revealed to you, then your message most likely will not resonate today and you may not get the results that you expect.  Don’t make a mess of your message by trying to recite the ‘About Us’ Section of your company’s website when you first meet people.  What is captivating to other professionals these days is congruency with how you communicate that you are a real person through your attitude, behavior, and actions.

The definition of Audacity according to Wikipedia is to be BOLD, COURAGEOUS, or have CHUTZPAH.  I say that it’s pretty bold to be yourself with all your wonderful flaws (nobody’s perfect) because it proves your authenticity and attracts connection.  Everybody has relationships, yet few people relate.  Strive to be one of the few.  If you truly act like yourself all the time and not just in your personal life, then people will be able to relate.  This builds trust, credibility, and camaraderie.  If your behavior is different depending on whether you’re in a personal or professional environment, then you may be attracting people who are attracted to who you’re pretending to be.  And, it’s my belief that this is not the recipe for a long term professional relationship that’ll provide a steady stream of referrals.

In the grand scheme of things, you devote your time networking at the local Chamber of Commerce, Association Mixers, and even weekly BNI meetings to receive a return on your investment (ROI) in the form of regular referrals.  Navigating the VCP Process® to networking from Visibility to Credibility all the way to Profitability would most likely then be your goal.  Based on the marketplace’s value on authenticity today, I personally believe that your easiest path to Profitability is to start by simply being yourself.  Isn’t that a sigh of relief? 🙂

In closing, a successful small business owner’s mission is not solely to take the action to network.  It’s about taking the actions to ensure that you connect and relate with others when you network that really counts.   I thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 11 called “Don’t Make a Mess of Your Message.”

The 5 Levels of Relationships to Understand for Networking Success

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to speak with my good friend Andy Hart, a networking expert from Ireland, at the BNI International Conference in Long Beach, CA.  Andy is a true master of networking and in this short video, he explains the Levels of a Relationship and how having a huge network of contacts doesn’t necessarily mean you have a huge pool of contacts from which you’ll actually gain business.

Andy discusses five main relationship levels in regard to business networking and the possibility of generating referrals from those in your network of contacts; more importantly,  he outlines a simple exercise which will enable you to pinpoint which relationship level you are  currently maintaining with each of your contacts.

After carrying out the exercise Andy suggests, please come back and share your findings–were they what you expected, or were  you surprised by what you discovered?

Which Is Better–Online Networking or In-Person Networking?

 

In this brief video, Roger Green and I talk about online networking versus in-person networking and also what I discovered when doing research for the book Business Networking and Sex in regard to how much time is necessary to invest in networking in order to get results.

When it comes to networking, there’s online networking and there’s face to face networking.  The simple fact is–it’s not “either/or” . . . it’s “both/and.”  Online networking doesn’t impact face-to-face networking in a negative way. It enhances it.

If you want to be successful in building your personal network, you need diversity in your networks. I highly suggest that people join a few different networks, rather than just sticking with one.

What in-person networks do you currently belong to?  Which online networks do you currently belong to?  In the comments section, please share which networks (both in-person and online) you belong to that you’ve had the most success with–perhaps someone else might read about your experiences and gain success with those networks as well.

If You Don’t Get This, You Won’t Succeed at Networking

In this brief video, Roger Green and I talk about the two styles of engagement (Relational vs.Transactional) and The VCP Process®.

Throughout the course of my research, I’ve found that, on the average, when it comes to networking, men’s behavior typically goes in one specific direction, and women’s behavior goes in a very different direction. It’s very important to understand this but what’s even more imperative to understand is the VCP Process®–if you don’t get VCP, nothing else you do will work at networking; you have to understand VCP.

Remember: Generating business through networking is a referral process; not a sales process.  After watching the video, please share your thoughts in the comments section regarding the VCP Process®–which part(s) of the process do you currently excel at and which part(s) do you feel you might need to work on?  Do you believe your are better at certain parts of the process due to being either transactional or relational, or because of your gender?

The Three Laws of Notable Networking

Over the last few decades, I’ve met individuals who have developed such incredible networking skills that they get almost 100 percent of their business through referrals.  They’ve been successful at building a word-of-mouth-based business because they’re as committed to giving referrals as they are to following up on the referrals they get.  What does it take to achieve results like these?

There are three requirements or laws for becoming a Notable (or effective) Networker.  Without applying these laws, you would find it impossible to work your networks effectively.

At face value the laws seem simple, but don’t let first impressions deceive you.  Behind these simple-sounding principles lies a comprehensive set of requirements and obligations.  If you don’t heed these laws, you will invest many hours and some dollars into networking groups but get a poor return on your investment.

The Three Laws of Notable Networking Are:

  1. Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude
  2. Learn How to Use Networking Tools Effectively
  3. Networking Is an Acquired Skill

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going into detail about each of the above laws so be sure to come back to learn more about how you can become a truly Notable Networker and get optimum results from all of your networking efforts and investments.

Also, if you have a story about how you’ve used one or more of the above laws to achieve success in networking, please share it in the comments section below so we can all learn from your successes.  Thanks!

Think Face-to-Face Networking Isn’t Important?–Think Again . . .

Now that we can just pick up our smartphones and immediately connect with people on the other side of the world, have in-person conversations become a thing of the past?

In this short video, I talk with Roger Green of Applied Transformation Inc. about the value of face-to-face meetings.  If you don’t know how the holographic Jedi Knights of “Star Wars” and a newspaper journalist in Stockholm relate to the importance of face-to-face networking, there’s no need to wonder . . . just watch this video to find out. 😉

What’s your own take on the importance of face-to-face networking versus relying on technology to connect?  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum–I’d love to hear some diverse perspectives on this.  Thanks!

The NEW Definition of Networking

In this video, I’m joined by my partners in the Referral Institute®, Mike Macedonio and Dawn Lyons, and we discuss the definition of networking.  Twenty years ago, I wrote The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret and in it I gave my definition of the word “Networking.”  Times have changed since then, however, and Dawn came to me with two suggestions that give “Networking” a new, updated meaning.

Based on Dawn’s suggestions which we discuss in detail in the video, the 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.”

After watching the video, let us know your thoughts on the definition of networking.  Do you have a different definition, or any feedback on what may be missing from the new definition of networking that we’ve provided here?  We’d love to hear from you so please leave your comments in the comment forum below. Thanks!

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