8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Sponsorship Opportunitystring(70) "8 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering a Sponsorship Opportunity"

Local communities and organizations–be they service clubs or professional groups–depend on sponsorships to make ends meet at some of their events.  This is also true for association trade shows and exhibitions.  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.

When you consider which people you will network with and where, you’re being selective.  Choose carefully, too, when you’re thinking about sponsoring an event.  Is it a good investment of your time and money?  Whether you’re being recruited or are volunteering, ask yourself the following questions before deciding . . .

  • 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?

All of these questions help you determine the value of a sponsorship opportunity.  Now, imagine one day being in charge of putting on a huge event.  Suddenly, someone from your network steps forward to offer you a substantial sponsorship because she heard through the grapevine that your event needed money.  How would you feel about that person?  You can create that same feeling toward yourself in someone else by offering that exact gift.  Be selective, and offer your support in person.  In effect, you are making a tidy “deposit” in your relationship bank account.  This act of generosity definitely comes back to you in time, but for now it simply nurtures the relationship by helping someone in your network meet her goals.

This week, think of the people in your network.  Who do you know that is planning an event–a conference, an open house, a 10K fundraiser–who could use your financial support?  To strengthen your relationship with this individual, offer as much help from your business as you can provide.

Have you sponsored an event in the past?  If so, I’d love to hear about your experience and how it impacted your relationship with the person in charge of the event.  Please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The VCP Process® Explained–What’s Your VCP Story?string(62) "The VCP Process® Explained–What’s Your VCP Story?"

As some of you may know, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking.  This short video is one of many others, some of which I’ll post in the future, that cover networking topics which we will be focusing on in the book.  The videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and in this particular video, I explain each step of the VCP Process® approach to networking in careful detail, emphasizing that credibility is really the key to networking success.

I share a personal story which demonstrates why trying to drum up referrals from people you’ve never met before is an exercise in futility as you’re not even at the visibility stage with them, and I outline the absolute best way to establish credibility with others.

If you have a story relating to the VCP Process® which fits the criteria I describe in the video, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

 

Purposeful Meal Meetings Equal Networking Opportunitystring(53) "Purposeful Meal Meetings Equal Networking Opportunity"

So, what exactly is a purposeful meal meeting?  First, I’ll clarify what it isn’t.  It’s not a way to escape work, it’s not a time to have three martinis, it’s not a romantic date, and it’s not about critiquing new restaurants or reviewing fine wines.  All these things can be great fun, I’m not arguing that–it’s just that none of them are focused on, or maybe even conducive to, productive networking.

A purposeful meal meeting is nothing more than a meeting that includes a meal and a specific, meaningful purpose.  And the specific purpose I want to talk about today is networking.  When networking at a meal meeting, your networking purpose might be to further develop the relationship, to help a colleague solve a problem, to learn how to refer someone in your network, to introduce your colleague to someone significant, or to teach someone how to talk about your business to his own network members.  These meetings are strategic and results oriented.  They provide high value for your invested time.

Let’s begin by considering the average work week of five days.  There are three main meals which could be eaten per day.  Barring the usual hindrances to daily scheduling, this gives you fifteen opportunities each week to have a purposeful meal meeting.  That’s 780 opportunities in a year.  Now, dining with 780 people could not only put a hole in your pocket, but it could tear a hole in some of your personal relationships as well.  Let’s be realistic . . . imagine what your significant other would begin to think if instead of eating the majority of your meals with them, you were out eating each meal with a different person.  You certainly don’t want to stay away from home so much that your children and/or pets no longer recognize you.  So, let’s say half of your meals are spent eating with your family–you still have an estimated 390 opportunities for purposeful meal meetings.

NeverEatAloneThe point is, the potential exists for a substantial amount of networking over meals.  No one capitalizes on this concept better than Keith Ferrazzi in his book Never Eat Alone: “I’m constantly looking to include others in whatever I’m doing.  It’s good for them, good for me, and good for everyone to broaden their circle of friends.”  This level of networking increases his productivity and helps him connect with people from different parts of his community.  Ferrazzi believes that his strongest links have been forged at the table.  He has learned how powerful the art of throwing a dinner party can be in creating memories and strengthening relationships.  Something magical and companionable happens when friends break bread together.  Ferrazzi is quick to mention, however, that if we continue to have dinner parties with the same people, our circle will never grow.  His solution is to identify and invite “anchor tenants” to your party.  These are people who are related to your core group but who know different people, have experienced different things, and thus have much to share.  They tend to be the people who have had a positive influence on your friends’ lives.  It’s akin to inviting the CEO to the manager’s table, as Ferrazzi says.  Soon, other executives will want to be there too.

I had the opportunity to experience one of Keith’s networking parties firsthand and the anchor guest that night was the legendary author Gore Vidal.  Providing the entertainment was America’s oldest collegiate a cappella group, the Whiffenpoofs of Yale.  Clearly, not all of us will be able to get Gore Vidal and the Whiffenpoofs at our networking party, but I’m guessing that Keith didn’t have them at his first party either.  However, the strategy is sound, and I encourage you to try out the concept as a way of building your visibility in the community.  Keith has paid close attention to how a meal can most appropriately be leveraged for a business networking opportunity; the primary focus should always be on developing the relationship.  Learning about each other, helping one another with problems, and giving of ourselves–that’s what defines a purposeful meal meeting.

Do you have any stories about purposeful meal meetings or dinner parties where you made memorable, beneficial connections?  If so, I’d love to hear your story–please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

sword

‘Givers Gain’ Is a Standard, Not a Swordstring(52) "‘Givers Gain’ Is a Standard, Not a Sword"

Givers Gain® is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity.  In the context of networking groups, people who adopt this philosophy dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow networkers rather than making their foremost concern getting business for themselves.  In doing so, other people naturally become eager to repay their kindness by sending them business in return.  Givers Gain is a great way to live life in general and it is a standard which we can all apply to ourselves—key word being “ourselves”; it is not a sword to be pointed at others who may not adopt the philosophy.

Unfortunately, I have seen the Givers Gain concept abused from time to time and, as you may have guessed, the reason I’m writing about it now is because I saw it abused quite recently.  The entire concept gets misused when we start pointing a finger at others and saying things like, “Milton doesn’t have a Givers Gain attitude—he’s going about things all wrong.”  What’s interesting is that when we say things like this about other people, it’s often because they’re not doing something we think they ought to be doing in business or life.

Again, Givers Gain is not a sword to wave around at people who aren’t doing what we think they should be doing.  It is a standard we can apply to ourselves and ourselves only.  Ironically, when we point our index finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us—it’s a perfect reminder of whose actions and tactics we really need to be worrying about, don’t you think?  Don’t be the person who tends to blame others for their woes instead of focusing on their own behavior.

People who criticize and point fingers at others can be very caustic, which is one of the reasons it is important to be really selective about the people you surround yourself with (especially in the context of networking groups).  That said, there will undoubtedly still be people in our lives who are unendingly critical, judgmental, and just plain vitriolic.  I know I certainly have a couple of them in my life, including one person in particular who appears to have made criticizing me his favorite pastime.  They’re the people who love to talk about you, but who never actually talk to you about issues.

So, what do you do if you practice the Givers Gain philosophy in a sincere and consistent way, yet there is still someone waging a very personal attack on you?  How do you respond when they start waving their interpretation of the Givers Gain concept in your face like a sword of criticism?  The answer is simple—be yourself.  Continue to apply the philosophy to yourself in every way you can.  Vitriolic people are that way because they can’t control themselves.  Maybe they’re basically angry, maybe they’ve had a difficult life—who knows?  It doesn’t really matter because they are who they are and you can’t change them.  As much as we’d all like to steer clear of these people, there will be times when it’s virtually impossible.

Telling someone they’re wrong about you never works (I know this from personal experience); they’ll just come at you even stronger.  I can tell you what does work though.  What really works is when somebody else stands up and says to the person who’s badmouthing you that they’re out of line, or that what they’re saying is simply not appropriate.  It’s a little like a referral—nothing beats a third party endorsement . . . or, in this case, a third party defense.

Why am I bringing all this to light?  Because, the fact is, you are going to find yourself around a vitriolic person at one time or another—someone who’s combative instead of collaborative, someone who’s saying horrible things about someone else—and I want to take this opportunity to strongly encourage you to stand tall and speak up.

Good people stand up when caustic people say bad things about others; and if you practice Givers Gain as your own personal standard, you already know that standing up for others will encourage others to stand up for you.

Do you have a story about an experience with a person who was criticizing you to others or other people to you?  How did you handle it?  I’d love to hear your story, as well as your feedback on this blog post and on the Givers Gain concept in general.  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Spray and Pray Networkingstring(25) "Spray and Pray Networking"

An associate of mine once told me about an interesting experience she had when she struck up a conversation with a woman at a networking function.  When the woman asked my associate what she did for a living, my associate explained that she  helps small business owners build their businesses through networking and referrals.  The woman smiled quite confidently and said, “I’m a business owner myself and I’m actually really good at networking!  I’ve been doing it for a long, long time.”

This, of course, ignited my associate’s interest so she said to the woman, “I’m always interested in the tactics of successful networkers; do you mind if I ask you what your secret is?”  The woman flashed a self-satisfied smirk, stood up straight with an air of accomplishment, and said, “Well, I always make sure to go to networking functions with a friend and when we enter the room we draw an imaginary line right down the middle.  If my friend takes the right side, I take the left side and vice versa.    Once we each choose the side of the room we’re going to cover, we agree to meet back together at a certain time, and then we spend the entire time networking only on our individual side of the room trying to gather as many business cards as possible.  When the time comes for us to reconvene with each other, we compare how many business cards we each collected and whoever has the least is the loser so they then have to buy lunch for the one who collected the most.”

My associate inquired further, “So what do you do each do with all of the business cards you gather?”  Donning her proud smile yet again, the business woman said, “That’s the beauty of it.  I enter them into my prospect list and begin to send them information about my services!  Since I have all their contact information, I figure why not pitch my services to them–they’re all potentially good prospects, right?”

When my associate told me this story, she was appalled that the woman would network in this way and I wholeheartedly agree that this is NOT an effective way to network.  Instead, it’s a classic example of how some people use networking as a “face-to-face cold-calling” technique which I like to call “spray and pray”–it’s basically just like taking a networking spray can (so to speak) full of meaningless information, dousing the room of people with your spray, and praying that you’ll hit a few people who will respond to the generic concoction you’ve sprayed them with.

Networking is not . . . I repeat NOT . . . about simply gathering contact information and spamming people at a later date.  In reality, that’s nothing more than glorified cold calling–Brrrrr–it gives me the chills!  I used to teach cold calling techniques to business people many, many years ago and though cold calling may work some of the time, I did it long enough to know that I didn’t ever want do it again.  Nearly three decades ago, I decided to devote my entire career to teaching the global business community  that there is a much better way to build long-term business than “spraying and praying”–not only is it better, it is the absolute best way to grow any business–the secret to effective networking and long term business success is investing in strong, mutually beneficial business relationships based on trust.

Have you ever had an experience with someone who adopted the “spray and pray” networking style, or have you ever been a “spray and pray” networker yourself?  If so, please share your story here–I’d love to hear your experiences!

Want Visibility, Credibility, & Profitability? First You Need One Thing . . . Relationshipsstring(96) "Want Visibility, Credibility, & Profitability? First You Need One Thing . . . Relationships"

I’ve mentioned the VCP Process® time and time again throughout the years on this blog site because we simply can’t achieve success at networking without strategically building visibility, earning credibility, and then ultimately gaining profitability.  The key to all three of these things, however, is found in one thing . . . relationships.

In this short video, my good friend Lisa Nichols and I explain how building quality relationships is the single most powerful thing you can do to position yourself for success and fulfillment in every area of your life.  As Lisa puts it, when you nurture your relationships with good intention, people will innately want to give back to you.  Lisa talks about how she has built her entire business through investing in quality relationships (as have I) and because of this, her business has grown by double digits each and every year.

Lisa and I are a perfect example of how building quality relationships with others can enrich your life and your business in amazing ways.  Over the years since we first met at a TLC Conference, we have developed a deep respect for one another and an irreplaceable friendship through our mutual dedication to helping each other in any way we can.

Watch the video now and think about how you might take specific actions in the coming weeks to invest in building quality relationships with those around you . . . who would you most like to approach and ask, “How can I help you? . . . Is there something I might be able to do for you in order to help you meet your goals?”

I would love to hear your feedback on this video or how you are going to take action in the near future toward nurturing your new and existing relationships.  Please leave your ideas and thoughts in the comment forum below–AND . . . I’ll send a surprise gift to the first ten people who add to their comment the correct answer as to where another of my good friends (Bob) is hiding in this video.  He may not be so easy to spot this time but I promise he’s there just begging to be noticed!  (NOTE: To ensure you receive your gift, you’ll need to send your full name and mailing address to Erin@bni.com after you leave your comment in the comment forum below).  Thanks in advance for your input and participation!

Bob2

Also, Bob says he really recommends that you click here (www.MotivatingTheMasses.com) to read more about Lisa and the inspiring work she does on a daily basis. 

 

Meet Bob, a World Traveler & Networking V.I.P.string(51) "Meet Bob, a World Traveler & Networking V.I.P."

Fourteen years ago, I met Bob.  Bob has since then traveled to every part of the world I’ve been to and met thousands of people in the process as my right-hand wing-man and networking partner extraordinaire.

I wrote a blog some time ago telling Bob’s story because he’s a very important person in the way that he can teach us all a thing or two about staying connected.  This video is Bob’s first video blog appearance on BusinessNetworking.com and I’m excited to say that it certainly won’t be his last video blog appearance.  Watch the video now to find out more about Bob and why you’ll definitely be seeing a lot more of him.

Also, be sure to read the full story about Bob by CLICKING HERE Once you read his story you’ll have a much better understanding why he’s such a popular and well-loved networker and you’ll appreciate him a lot more when he makes his upcoming video cameos.

After watching the video and reading Bob’s story, I’d love to hear your comments on what you think about Bob or your stories about different ways (whether they’re similar to Bob or not) that you stay connected when you’re traveling both near and far.  Thanks in advance for your input!

If You’re Not Networking Up, You’re Not Tapping into Your True Potentialstring(84) "If You’re Not Networking Up, You’re Not Tapping into Your True Potential"

In this short video, referral marketing expert Tom Fleming and I explain what networking ‘up’ is all about and why it’s imperative to the success of your business that you focus on networking up.

Though our natural instinct is often to stay firmly planted in our own comfort zone by associating with people who are either equally as successful or less successful than we are, if we want to achieve higher levels of success, it is crucial that we network up by making an effort to surround ourselves with people who are more successful.

Jack Canfield often says that we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with and that concept holds quite a bit of truth; if you surround yourself with and spend the most time with people who are more successful than you, you are in a perfect position to constantly learn from them, meet other successful and accomplished people through their networks, and continually challenge yourself to achieve higher and higher levels of success.

Take a minute to think about a successful person you admire.  What is something they have experience with that you could use their advice on in order to improve your business?  You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by contacting them and asking them to share their knowledge with you so what are you waiting for?  Make it your goal to connect with them in the next seven days and to start putting consistent effort into nurturing your relationship with them.  Next, repeat this process week after week with other successful people you would like to surround yourself with and learn from–I guarantee you will be amazed at the results and pleasantly surprised at their willingness to help.

If you’re already networking up, what are some of the most invaluable things you’ve learned from the successful people you’ve been brave enough to reach out to and build relationships with?  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear about your experiences with this!

Speak to Be Heard and Hear to Know How to Speakstring(47) "Speak to Be Heard and Hear to Know How to Speak"

Peter Drucker once said, “The most important thing in communication is to hear what isn’t being said.”  This is so true and extremely important because the quality of our relationships depends on the quality of our communications; and when it comes to sales for your business and growing your business through referral marketing, this concept is a cornerstone for success.

Of course, not all sales transactions require incredible relationships or communication (e.g., online shopping), yet even big box stores like Wal-Mart–not known for warm customer relations–illustrate the value they place on communication and relationships by employing a visitor host to greet customers at the entrance of their stores.

Sara Minnis, a friend of mine, has often dealt with a phobia many sales people face within the sales process by coaching salespeople who are afraid of being rejected by a prospect or customer.  She says, “Sales ‘phobics’ might have an unrealistic fear of being rejected during cold calling, during the closing phase, or on a phone conversation.”  This, she suggests, is because the phobic salesperson tends to focus their communication on the emotional fit between themselves and the customer.  She explains, “The real business of selling can’t begin until the sales phobic feels that the prospect likes him or her.”  To avoid this, she says, “The professional seller directs her communication toward finding a fit between her product and the buyer’s need.  Focusing on being liked only enhances fears of personal rejection, while attending to the customer’s needs drives the transaction toward a closed deal.”

Sellers in strong relationships with their clients have a competitive advantage because the client feels connected or bonded to the seller.  The single most important tool sellers use to establish a connecting bond with another person is communication.  In fact, building a bonded relationship is completely dependent on having quality communications with another individual.

The art and science of communication is more than talking and hearing words.  There are many strategies and techniques aimed at earning the right to have your message heard.  If you can communicate at a level that matches the customer’s style rather than your own, you will be well on your way to masterful sales conversations.

Masters of sales today assume more of a consultative perspective to their selling work.  In fact, many box retail stores use the term “sales consultant” to describe the store clerk of yesterday.  Master sales consultants know that their ability to communicate is critical to selling client solutions, because rapport and trust, the cornerstones of selling, are built or lost based on communication.

So what can you do this week to improve your communication skills in order to speak to be heard and hear to know how to speak (e.g., joining a Toastmasters club, reading books like Dr. Mark Goulston’s Just Listen, etc.)?  I’d love to hear your ideas in the comment forum below

‘Why People Resist Networking’ Series: Part I–Lack of Confidencestring(82) "‘Why People Resist Networking’ Series: Part I–Lack of Confidence"

 

In this first video in the “Why People Resist Networking Series,” I list four ideas about why people most likely resist networking and then delve more deeply into detail about the very first idea–Lack of Confidence.

I offer insight into three different reasons why people lack confidence when it comes to networking and then give explanations & solutions (solutions which have helped me in my own networking efforts, I might add) to combat this reasoning which too often prevents people from reaping the benefits of networking for their business.

After watching the video, please leave your feedback, thoughts, and/or comments in the comment forum below.  I would love to hear your feedback as well as your own ideas about why people may lack confidence in regard to networking. Thanks!

Seeking Engagement: A Critical Step for Networking Groupsstring(57) "Seeking Engagement: A Critical Step for Networking Groups"

Engagement involves a promise and an action.  In order to achieve success in your group of networking relationships, you and your relationships must promise to support one another and then take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.

There are many ways that you can become engaged.  Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network?  Have you taken the time to educate them regularly on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top of mind in the event they meet someone with a need for what you supply?  Have you taken the time to become educated on the key features of your networking relationships’ businesses so that you can do the same?

The higher the number of people in your network who are engaged in these activities, the more likely it is that the entire group will be generating more referrals.  The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

Another way to be actively engaged and educated about each others’ businesses is to do regular and consistent meetings.  Over and over, I see that business owners who have regular one-to-one meetings with their business networking relationships tend to both give AND get more referrals.

Lastly, are you focusing on your “elevator pitch”?  The best way to ensure your referral sources are going to remember what you do is to focus on communicating your business to them by breaking it down into laser-specific elements.  Sharp-shoot your pitch, don’t shotgun it.  In each of your regular one-to-one meetings, talk about one key element, product, or benefit of what you do.

According to Psychology Today, research has found that people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not.  Furthermore, they state that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values of the organization, and recognition.”  There’s research behind my recommending reciprocal engagement between you and your referral partners.  In fact, it’s critical to your success–and theirs.

This week, think about new ways in which you can support your networking partners in order to promote engagement within your networking group.  I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

 

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?string(58) "Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?"

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

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