Referrals Archives - Page 21 of 23 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

The Platinum Rule: Treat Others How THEY Want to be Treated

Lately, I’ve observed a few networking blunders occurring that have reminded me of the importance of what Tony Allessandra calls the Platinum Rule. Most of us are familiar with the Golden Rule (“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”), but to network effectively, you’ve got to be relationship-based, so you need to use the Platinum Rule–not only with your referral source, but also with the prospect.

There are three people involved in a referral: 1. You. You need to know how you work best and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.  2. The referral source. How does this person like to communicate? How does he like to be treated? If you want him to help you, you’ve got to treat him the way he wants to be treated.  3. The prospect.  How does the prospect like to be sold to?  What’s the best way to communicate with the prospect?

Strive to be adaptable and accommodate the behavioral style of your source when you’re working with him or her, and of your prospect when you’ve been put in touch with him. If you seek to find out how people want to be treated and then treat them that way, you won’t make the mistake of assuming everyone likes the same things you do. Looking for a fast way to destroy a budding relationship? Assume that your client or referral partner enjoys deep-sea fishing as avidly as you do and insist that he come along on your next Old Man and the Sea adventure. Then watch as he turns green and hugs the rail of the boat the entire day.

By learning about the other person’s goals, accomplishments, interests, networks and skills, you can establish the groundwork for a smooth-running referral relationship from the start.  All of these factors together will tell you the best way to communicate and what to talk about.

Create an Informative Newsletter

Think about the people you consider experts. They are known for sharing their knowledge through books, research papers, columns, articles and newsletters. Experts write. If you wish to be seen as an expert, consider writing an informative newsletter.

Of course, you don’t just sit down and crank out a good newsletter overnight. You need to think it through–and plan out many of its attributes well in advance. If you like the idea of a newsletter and want to use it to network your business, here are 10 questions to ask yourself:

1.  What will be the purpose of the newsletter?
2.  Who is the target audience?
3.  Why would my target audience want to read it?
4.  How will it benefit my audience?
5.  What features will it contain?
6.  Who will write the text?
7.  Will I use a professional to design the layout?
8.  How often will it go out?
9.  How will it be distributed?
10.  How will people sign up for it?

Your newsletter should be informative and educational so that it brings value to your audience and motivates people to read it. Also, unless you have a publishing or web design expert on staff, you should seriously consider outsourcing the production of your newsletter to a professional. Remember, your newsletter is an extension of your business, and it’s often the first thing a prospect sees of you.

Publishing a newsletter week after week or month after month is time-consuming and requires a strong commitment, but it can be a powerful networking and marketing tool. You want your audience to come to expect it–indeed, to look forward to receiving it–and that means you have to deliver it on time and deliver top-notch quality.  An expert produces nothing short of the best.

PR Helps Your Networking Efforts

Next to word of mouth, publicity is the most cost-effective strategy you can use to market your business.  It increases your credibility and helps you position yourself ahead of your competition–as long as it’s positive publicity, of course.

The main objective of publicity is to announce or inform.  Publicity is usually free; in most cases, you don’t have to pay to get your press release into the paper.  You (or a professional writer) draft the press release, but someone at the paper edits it and turns it into an article before it’s published.

There are many online resources available to teach you how to structure, design, and format your press release. When you’re ready to submit it, you can either use a distribution service such as PRWeb.com. or submit it to your community’s local publications yourself.

Networking your business is more than just going out and shaking hands; your business also needs to generate publicity to increase your visibility and credibility.  Professionals recommend that your business generate a press release once per quarter to remain visible in your industry and community.

For tips on writing a press release, CLICK HERE.

What Does It Take for You to Refer Someone?

At the BNI International Conference in Long Beach this past November, I had a great conversation with my business partner in the Referral Institute, Mike Macedonio (pictured to the right).  He was explaining why he feels there are only a few criteria that must be met to make people referrable by him.

The first criterion is that the individual is must be an expert at what he or she does.  He looks for people who have invested in learning their trade and continue to invest to master their trade.  Do they specialize in a certain area?  What achievements have they attained in their area of expertise?

Another one of Mike’s requirements is that the person is passionate about what he or she does.  This, especially, makes a lot of sense to me because if you’re not passionate about what you do, how could you expect other people to get excited about working on your behalf?

Mike’s last criterion stipulates that the person he is referring understands and honors the referral process.  More specifically, Mike wants to ensure that the person receiving the referral understands his or her number-one responsibility.  To quote Mike, “The number-one responsibility when you receive a referral is to make the person who gave you the referral look great.”  As long as the people Mike gives referrals to are doing this for him, Mike can remain confident that his reputation will be protected.  It also compels him to continue giving these people referrals.

Mike’s list of qualifications that make a person referrable is short, yet very powerful.  After discussing it, we both agreed that we should expect others to evaluate our referrability by these same criteria.  Are we invested experts, and do we continue to invest in our trade?  Are we passionate about what we do?  Are we practicing what we preach?  Do we make our referral sources look great?  I’m glad to say that I’m confident we both do all of these things.

So what makes people referrable by you?  I’m sure many of you have some great ideas in response to this. I’d love to hear them, so please feel free to leave a comment.

Become a Motivational Speaker for Your Business

Have you ever listened to a motivational speaker such as Jack Canfield, Brian Tracy or Zig Ziglar?  When you listen to any of them, you can feel the passion flowing through the presentation’s words, actions and images.  The hidden element behind a motivational speaker is passion.  Think about that.  What does that tell you about your own message?

Your personal challenge in networking is to have an extraordinary message that not only captures but also highlights your unique selling proposition (USP).  Your USP is what sets you apart from your competition–you can’t afford to be ordinary, like your competition.  Your message needs to be filled with passion.  If you are not excited about what you do, no one else is, either.  In word-of-mouth marketing, that could be disastrous.

So how do you tap into your passion and tie it into your daily message about your business?  You can capitalize on your passion and spotlight your uniqueness by specifically answering the following questions from your heart and not your head:

1.  What can you say about yourself or your business that your competition cannot say?

2.  How does your work fulfill you?

3.  What element of your work do you most enjoy, and why?

Never forget that one of the top 10 traits of the master networker is enthusiasm/motivation.  You, your sales force and your word-of-mouth marketing team are the motivational speakers for your business, but the message begins with you.

Seek Out a Referral Networking Group

How much would it benefit you to have several dozen salespeople working on your behalf to bring you new business?  That would be something, wouldn’t it?  Wait, it gets better.  What if you didn’t have to pay them a salary or commission?  What if you didn’t have to provide them office space or fund their retirement plans?  Well . . . that’s what referral networks can do!

You may already have caught on to this not-so-well-kept secret, especially if you’re familiar with any of the books I’ve written; but if you’re new to the world of networking, then the first thing you should do is seek out a referral networking group.  Make sure you find a referral networking organization that provides a structured system for generating business by referrals.  You want to join a group that demonstrates real purpose and is results-oriented.

When you join a good referral networking group, you are providing yourself a means to easily implement the new networking strategies you learn with people who have also become skilled at networking their businesses.  When you surround yourself with quality business professionals who have committed themselves to continually taking the time to focus on networking, you will develop the genuine, long-lasting relationships that will lead to years of future business.

So, if you haven’t already joined a networking group, start searching the internet for networking groups in your area and make an appointment to visit a local chapter.

Click Here to learn what to look for when choosing a networking group.

Get Value for Your Time

As the founder and chairman of an international organization, I am sometimes overwhelmed by commitments and obligations, so I know firsthand how important it is to make the most of your time.  Have you ever tried to get back an hour you spent on something that didn’t turn out well? It’s not possible. Since you know you can’t retrieve an hour, much less a day of precious time, you obviously want to spend it as wisely and effectively as you can.

So if you spent your time networking, you would want to get a high return on your networking investment, right? Here are some tips on how you can do just that:

1.  Be “on” 24/7
Be on the top of your networking game all the time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Networking opportunities present themselves in the most unsuspected places and times.  If you snooze, you just might lose.

2.  Learn to play golf or something
Challenge yourself to a game of golf or some other activity that aligns with your interests and skills.  A lot of business that happens on the golf course could just as easily happen on the badminton court, the soccer field or across a pool table.

3.  Have purposeful meal meetings
Get more value out of your meal meetings.  If you’re going to meet and eat, you may as well get more out of the experience than calories.  Make this activity pull its weight as an opportunity for business networking.

4.  Make first impressions count
Make sure you get off to a good start.  Learn to take a closer look at your appearance and your body language.  Are they helping you start good conversations–or ending them before you can even say a word?

5.  Seek out a referral networking group and join a chamber of commerce
If you’re going to venture out and attempt to build a network, the first steps should be to seek out a referral networking group and a chamber of commerce to help network your business.

6.  Sponsor select events and host a purposeful event
Focus on how you can leverage sponsorship opportunities and specific events to position your business in front of key people.  Of course, you need to take the initiative to make it happen.

Work on these strategies so you can strengthen your network, get more return on your networking investment, increase your visibility within the community and, most of all, get the most value from the time you spend networking.

Sponsor Select Events

Sponsorships seem to have become a part of our consumer culture.  You can’t watch or attend a big sports event, for example, without being exposed to the event’s sponsors.  On a smaller scale, local communities and organizations also depend on sponsorships to make ends meet at some of their events.  In most cases, the dollar amounts for sponsoring events of this sort are modest–ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

How many times have you been asked to be a sponsor?  How many times have you offered to sponsor a select event in order to help out someone in your network?  Both situations have the potential to give you huge exposure if done well.  In addition, sponsoring an event for someone on your word-of-mouth marketing team enhances the relationship, because you are helping that person meet a goal.

Be selective and choose carefully when you’re thinking about sponsoring an event.  Is it a good investment of your time and money?  The questions below will help you determine the value of a sponsorship before deciding to become a sponsor:

*  What is the target market for this event?

*  What kind of exposure do I get for my investment?

*  Can I get this kind of exposure without this investment?

*  Do I get direct access to the audience?

*  Does it make sense for me to be there?

*  Which business or networking goal does it help me complete?

*  Are other sponsors my competitors?

*  How does this enhance my credibility with the person I’m helping?

*  Why wouldn’t I do it?

What do you look for when you are considering sponsoring an event?

Volunteer and Become Visible

One of the first steps toward networking your business is to become more visible in the community. Remember that people need to know you, like you and trust you in order to refer you. Volunteering can position you to meet key people in your community. It connects you with people who share your passion. It gives you opportunities to demonstrate your talents, skills and integrity, as well as your ability to follow up and do what you say you are going to do. It instantly expands the depth and breadth of your network.

People who volunteer demonstrate their commitment to a cause without concern for personal gain. Thus, you should be volunteering with organizations or causes for which you hold genuine interest and concern. If administrators or other volunteers perceive that you are in it primarily for your own gain, your visibility will work against you, and you will undermine your own goals.

Volunteering is not a recreational activity; it’s a serious commitment to help fulfill a need. To find an organization or cause that aligns with your interests, you need to approach volunteerism with a healthy level of thought and strategy.

Start by asking yourself the nine questions below.

1. What do you enjoy doing for yourself in your spare time?

2. What hobbies do you enjoy?

3. What sports do you know well enough to teach?

4. What brings you joy and satisfaction?

5. What social, political or health issue are you passionate about because it relates to you, your family or your friends?

6. Based on the answers to the first five questions, what are three organizations that you can identify that appeal to you? (Examples: youth leagues, libraries, clubs, activist groups, church groups, homeless shelters) Choose the one that most appeals to you, and research the group online and in the community.

7. Now that you’ve researched this group, will it give you an opportunity to meet one of your professional or personal goals? If so, visit the group to “try it on.”

8. Now that you’ve visited this group, do you still want to make a final commitment of your time?

9. Are other group members satisfied with the organization? (To learn this, identify three members of the group to interview in order to assess their satisfaction with the organization. Consider choosing a new member, a two- to three-year member, and a seasoned five- to six-year member to interview.)

Once you’ve done the research required to satisfactorily answer these nine questions, join a group and begin to volunteer for visibility’s sake. Look for leadership roles that will demonstrate your strengths, talents and skills. In other words, volunteer and become visible. It’s a great way to build your personal network.

Create Your Networking Future

I had a conversation this week with a florist who was bemoaning the commitment he’d made in becoming a member of a local referral marketing group. He complained that he had never considered himself a natural networker and had assumed joining the group would jumpstart his networking efforts. But after five months, he still felt uncomfortable trying to build relationships with people he considered to be virtual strangers. He still felt like he had no real networking experience and that he didn’t have a clue how to develop the necessary networking skills that would make his membership worthwhile. He said it would probably be better for him to stop wasting time and just quit the group.

Here’s what I told him: It’s never too late to start creating your networking future. You can make a new start right here and now, no matter what wrong networking moves you may have previously made.

Start by taking stock of your networking strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to make goals and plans for yourself. Implement weekly networking strategies and be clear with yourself about what you need to work on to improve your networking skills. Just as in building a new house, you need a strong, stable foundation on which to construct your “networking home.” First things first: You must set goals, develop a plan and start accomplishing networking steps.

If you feel a lot like the florist when it comes to the current status of your networking efforts, here are seven keys to create your new, successful networking future:

1. Start by setting networking goals. Networking goals are vital. They keep you focused on the steps needed to network your business every day. Careful attention should be paid to this process.

2. Block out time to network. Carve out time in your weekly schedule for networking. To meet your goals, you must dedicate time to networking.

3. Profile your preferred client. Describe your preferred client in very specific and strategic terms. Knowing exactly whom you want to attract to your business as a client or customer–and being able to clearly, concisely and quickly describe that preferred client to everyone from your mother all the way down to the CEO of a Fortune 500 firm–is a vital step for networking success.

4. Recruit your word-of-mouth marketing team. Begin recruiting the individuals who will serve as your ambassadors. They are critical to your success. Why? Because networking, by definition, is a team sport. You win only when others are winning alongside you.

5. Give to others first. There is tremendous power in te law of reciprocity in networking. You will find that there are great benefits to giving to others in your network first, before expecting anything in return.

6. Create a network relationship database. Organize the people you know into a network database. An organized network database saves you time and energy in the long run.

7. Master the top 10 traits of a successful networker. Set a high bar for yourself by aiming to master the top 10 characteristics that define a master networker. This gives you something to aim for and a way of assessing where you stand now, relative to that goal.

Go the Extra Mile

On a daily basis, I am surrounded by people who know that connecting with others to network their businesses is extremely important. However, I am often surprised at how many people don’t put enough effort into purposefully strengthening their network relationships. The fact is, you want to be in solid with the people who constitute your network, and vice versa. You want to be the first name that comes to mind when those in your network scratch their heads and wonder, “Hmmm . . . Whom could I go to with that problem? Who would be a good fit for that referral?”

Going the extra mile provides you several ways to stand out and be positively memorable. Focus on things that you can do to demonstrate the unforgettable value you bring to the table as a network member. Even though our networking is about business, not social relationships, you have to admit that people like people who help them. If you help someone, he or she, in turn, wants to help you.

Take the initiative in developing a relationship with someone who could be of help to you in networking your business. Here are some strategies on how to do this:

1) Be a value-added friend. Focus your attention on the kind of value you bring to the relationships you form.

2) Become a catalyst. Take the lead and be the person who makes things happen.

3) Find an accountability partner–a person to whom you can be accountable, responsible and answerable, and who cares whether (and how effectively) you implement networking strategies and meet the goals you set for your business.

4) Volunteer as a way of building visibility for your business.

5) Send thank-you cards. This is a simple but powerful two-minute activity.

6) Timely follow-up is extremely significant and it is tremendously important in pushing a relationship forward.

Going the extra mile with the people in your network not only expresses your sincerity, but it also opens the door to accept what the law of reciprocity has to offer you and your business.

The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies

Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Six Degrees of Separation

I am pleased to announce that my new book, The 29% Solution, 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies has just been released! Below is an excerpt from the book.

What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and “six degrees of separation” all have in common? They are all urban legends! I wouldn’t do an expose on Kris Kringle or the egg-laying rabbit. I don’t want to stir up any trouble. What I do want to take issue with is the six-degrees thing.

You’ve heard that there are “six degrees of separation” between you and anybody else on earth that you would like to meet. Right? Amazing, isn’t it? Unfortunately, it’s just not true! I know, I know–you’re thinking, “What? That can’t be! It’s common knowledge that we are all separated by six connections to anyone in the world.” Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but the idea that we are all connected through six degrees of separation is rooted in myth–not in fact.

The legend originally stems from several “small world experiments” conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s and ’70s. These experiments involved sending folders or letters from a group of people in one part of the country to a specific person (whom they did not know) in another part of the country. The people were told to get the material to someone who might know someone who would know the individual to whom the material was to be delivered. This process formed a chain of connections linking the people together. It was, in fact, found that the letters or folders that eventually arrived in the right person’s hands took, on average, between five and six connections or degrees. This part is true; however, if you look closer, you will discover the problems that exist within the blanket statement that “we are all connected by six degrees.”

First off, though the average number of links for people who got the material through to the final contact was five or six connections, the majority of the connections that were made ranged from two to 10 (the average was five to six). This means that roughly half took more than six and roughly half less than six. Well, you say, that’s the average and I would agree that there’s nothing wrong with addressing this concept by the average, but there’s one small problem. The overwhelming majority of people in all of Milgram’s studies never got the material to the intended recipient at all! In Milgram’s most successful study, “217 chains were started and 64 were completed–a success rate of only 29 percent.” That’s right–a success rate of less than one-third of the participants! So what this means is that 29 percent of the people in Milgram’s most successful study were separated on average by six degrees from the final contact person. However, that means that 71 percent were not connected at all!

But wait, I’m afraid it gets worse. This was Milgram’s most successful study. In another of his studies, only 5 percent of the participants completed the chain, which means that 95 percent of the people in the study never made the link to the person they were supposed to connect to at all–ever! Don’t shoot the messenger, but I am afraid to tell you that we are not “all” connected with everyone in the world by six degrees of separation. We’re just not . . . not all of us.

So why would I, someone who has devoted most of his professional career to business networking, be telling everyone about the Achilles heel of this iconic concept upon which a lot of networking pros hang their hat? Well, there are two reasons. First of all, I believe this myth creates complacency. The thought that everyone is absolutely connected to everyone else on the planet by six degrees gives some people a false sense of expectation and thus lulls them into a sense that the connection is bound to happen sooner or later, no matter what they do. Second, and most important, the studies’ findings indicate clearly that some people are better connected than others. I believe that’s important because it means that this is a skill that can be acquired. With reading, training and coaching, people can develop their networking skills, increase their connections and become part of the roughly 29 percent of people who are, in fact, separated from the rest of the world by only six degrees.

Milgram’s work was revolutionary. It opened up a whole new world of discussion and understanding. It has, however, been romanticized. The mythical version of his findings does no good for anyone. It gives people a false sense of security or an erroneous world view of the networking process. I believe we do live in a “small world” that is becoming smaller and smaller; and I also believe it is possible to be connected to anyone in the world by only six degrees. I just don’t believe that “we are all” connected by six degrees, and Milgram’s own findings support that.

The good news in all of this is that it is possible to be part of the 29 percent through education, practice and training. We can be connected to anyone through the power and potential of networking. In fact, by understanding that, we can set ourselves aside from our competition by knowing that being able to make successful connections is not an entitlement. Instead, it is a skill that only some actually develop. As for the 71 percent of people who are not connected and yet still believe in the six degrees of separation concept–keep the faith. You’ll always have Santa Claus.

Books are now available at your local bookstore or from Amazon.com. I’d love to hear your thoughts about the book and/or the general concept.

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