Givers

Separating the Givers From the Takersstring(37) "Separating the Givers From the Takers"

The philosophy of Givers Gain® is about giving to other people first. Within this context, the giver cannot and should not expect an immediate return on their investment based on another’s gain. What they should focus on is that given enough effort and time, their generosity will be returned by and through their network of contacts, friends, and colleagues — many times over and in many different ways.

I incorporated the philosophy of Givers Gain into BNI almost 35 years ago, because I saw that many networking groups were far too mercenary in their approach. They used networking as a face-to-face cold-calling opportunity. I believed then, and I know now, that networking is all about relationship-building, and that one of the best ways to build a relationship is to help others first.  Through giving, you can gain in so many ways. I also recognize that there are takers in the world. There are people who either don’t understand the power of Givers Gain or who don’t really care or believe in the concept. I call these two categories of people “can’t do’s” and “won’t do’s.

The “Can’t do’s” and “Won’t do’s.

The can’t do’s do not know how to do something or do not understand why it’s important to do something. For these people, I’ve learned that with the right coaching, they may become willing to make that transition.

Then there are the people who are “won’t do’s.” They just want what serves them best and have no true intention of giving. It’s important to recognize them as soon as possible because they will abuse the relationship, not nurture it.

Life requires discernment. Sometimes, that is about evaluating the people in your network and whether they are willing to contribute to your relationship. Givers Gain does not mean you should be a “taker’s victim.” The world is full of givers and takers. Apply contextual insight and use appropriate judgment to give freely to the people who value the giving approach in life. Use discernment for the ones who do not.

Givers Gain®

I know a man who gave a half a dozen referrals to someone in his networking group over 18 months, but the individual never reciprocated. The man came to me seeking advice. I coached him to do the following…

Invite the person out for a one-to-one meeting, and come prepared to the meeting with as much detail as possible about the six referrals you gave. Start with the oldest and ask the following questions: How did it work out? Did it turn into business profit? If so, was it as much as you had hoped? Did the relationship work out well? Use open-ended questions to determine how well that referral worked out for the individual. After a few minutes, do the same for the next one, and then the next one, and so on, until you discuss all of the referrals you’ve given that individual.

What is a good referral?

Here is where your discernment needs to be fine-tuned. What if all those referrals you gave the individual did not work out as you thought? Then you need to ask the person how you could give better referrals in the future. However, if any of those referrals turned out to be good and possibly resulted in business, take a different tack. Tell the person that you are really glad the referrals you gave worked out well. Then pause a moment and say, “Since some of them worked out for you, I’d really appreciate it if you could do something similar for me. Maybe we could talk a little bit about how I can help you do that.”

From there, talk to the person about what a good referral is for you, how they can refer people to you, and even dive deeper into specific clients they may have that may be a good referral for you.

After the person I coached had his meeting, he came back to me and said he was so glad he followed my advice, rather than just end the relationship. He told me the individual “apologized profusely and then acknowledged this needed to be a two-way relationship. We spoke at length about how he could reciprocate, and he has already done so. The referral he just gave me turned into a big client!”

Reciprocal Relationships

Sometimes people are so busy in life they are just not thinking about the importance of having a reciprocal relationship. Sometimes they don’t know how, and sometimes they don’t care.  All three require discernment, and that discernment requires a different response strategy. Your giving energy should be focused on people who are aligned with the need for reciprocity. They may or may not be able to give back to you directly, but observe their behavior before you continue to blindly evolve into a giving victim.

The more energy you have for giving, the more you are able to give. Giving more where you have strong relationships makes you able to practice this philosophy in a healthy way. Givers Gain® is about taking off your bib and putting on an apron. It’s about building a relationship by helping others first.

Three R's of Networking

The Three R’s of Networkingstring(33) "The Three R’s of Networking"

Do you know the Three R’s of Networking? Remember, networking is not selling. Therefore, these three are slightly different from the Three R’s’ of Selling.  Networking, however, can help you develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business. The Three R’s of Networking are Relationships, Reliability, and Referrals.

Relationships

Word-of-mouth is about “relationship marketing.” If you approach the first year of your involvement in a networking group with the sole motivation of getting to know the other members well, you will be far ahead of the game. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that it is not really what you know or who you know; rather, it’s how well you know them that really counts! People do business with people they know and trust.

In order for word-of-mouth marketing to work for you, you first have to build a strong foundation with the people you hope will refer you to others. That takes time, and the amount of time it takes varies from profession to profession. Obviously, some professions are much more sensitive than others to the development of referrals. So find reasons to meet with each person outside the networking meeting. Get to them, and work on having them get to know you better. Make it clear that you value your relationship with each one of them.

Reliability

For the first year or so in a networking group, you are putting in your time. Your referral partners are testing you, checking you out and making sure that you deserve to have their valuable clients and contacts turned over to you. Therefore, you must be credible to the other professionals with whom you hope to network. Bear in mind that you should feel the same way, too. Before you risk your reputation with your clients by referring them to someone who takes less care of them than you would want to be taken, you must be very sure that the person to whom you refer them is reliable! How else are you going to know that unless you use them personally over a period of time?

Referrals

After cultivating relationships and proving yourself to be reliable, you get referrals as the end result. In order for someone to receive, someone else has to give. This holds so true with referrals. I would suggest you perform a reality check to see just how effectively you are referring to the people in your networking group. You might be surprised to find how little you actually refer others, or that you consistently refer the same two or three people.

If you aren’t tracking your referrals (both given and received), it’s time to start tracking them. Look for patterns. I would anticipate that in the months following a month you were particularly active in referring others, you will find that you are receiving more referrals! I have seen the “what goes around, comes around” principle illustrated over and over in BNI, the networking organization I founded years ago.

This is a natural progression and one that can’t really be rushed. I know it can seem frustrating at times when you are anxious to see your bottom line increase quickly from all the referrals you are anticipating receiving, but believe me, if you are patient and apply these techniques, you will see word-of-mouth marketing work for you in a big way.

networking

So why go to a networking meeting?string(34) "So why go to a networking meeting?"

You go because networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. Sometimes you go to increase your visibility and to connect with people you have never met. Sometimes you go to establish further credibility with people you know. And sometimes you may go to meet a long-time referral partner and do some business. In any case, the true master networkers know that networking events are about moving through the relationship process and not just about closing deals. Visibility leads to credibility which, with time and effort, leads to profitability.

Your goal at a networking event is to make yourself memorable without talking about yourself. It sounds paradoxical, doesn’t it? But, if you know how to do it, you will stand out in people’s minds when they look back on the event. The secret is simply to ask people about themselves and their businesses. In order to make your networking efforts work, you need to embrace a “relationship networking” mentality.

Remember these ten networking tips to make yourself stand out when attending networking events:

  1. Don’t go there to sell, go there to connect.
  2. Have meaningful conversations with the people you meet.
  3. Make yourself memorable.
  4. Talk less and listen more.
  5. Follow up with people you found interesting or who you can help in some way.
  6. Don’t follow up to sell them something.
  7. Don’t show off, show interest.
  8. Meet these people in a one-to-one setting and learn more about them
  9. Ask them: “how can I help you?”
  10. Go for the long-term relationship, not the short sale.

What is the goal of your networking? If it is to build your business, then it’s all about building a relationship with people. Keep your eye on the ball. Don’t try to dazzle them with your brilliance. You can do that later.

Stand out from the crowd and impress them with your genuine interest in them, not your interest in selling to them.

Contact Sphere

Developing a Networking Contact Spherestring(38) "Developing a Networking Contact Sphere"

A contact sphere is a group of business professionals who have a symbiotic relationship. They are compatible, non-competitive professions. Contact spheres are a broad list of professions that could work well with you. While your Power Team is only those that you are actively working with. Hence, the power team working that symbiotic relationship created in the contact sphere.

My favorite example of a contact sphere is the caterer, the florist, the photographer, the videographer, hairstylist, makeup artist, and the travel agent. I call this the “wedding mafia”! If one gets a referral to a wedding, then they all get a referral to the wedding. These professions, more than most, have truly learned how to work their contact sphere. A contact sphere can be a steady source of leads. Each has clients who can benefit from the services of the others.  This is why a wedding often turns out to be, on the side, a business networking and referral-gathering activity.

To get the most out of your contact sphere:

  • Identify as many professions as possible that fit within your company’s contact sphere. Take a look at what professions your industry tends to work with to get an idea of repetitive and reciprocal referrals. Create a list of these professions.
  • Identify specific individuals who could fit into your contact sphere. Go to various networking groups and consult your business card file and database.
  • Invite these people to participate in networking groups with you so you can formalize your relationship and have a way to stay in regular contact. Maintaining a relationship is key. A good way to do that is to participate in groups that put you together on a regular basis.
  • Evaluate the professionals in your contact sphere that you are presently referring to. If they are not reciprocating, you may have the wrong profession or the wrong person. Fill the spot with someone who is willing to reciprocate.

Although developing a solid contact sphere will greatly increase your business, you must remember that it alone is not enough. Because contact spheres consist of small groups, you’re not likely to gain exposure to a large number of individuals. Hence, work on developing your overall network of contacts at the same time you are developing your contact sphere. Good luck. Contact spheres are a great way to start building your professional network.

inspire confidence

Inspire Confidence to Refer Youstring(31) "Inspire Confidence to Refer You"

When it comes to getting referrals from your network, the confidence others have in you is a vital component. None of them wants to risk their personal reputation by referring to a stranger. Until you inspire confidence that referring contacts to you won’t harm their reputation with their clients, associates, friends or family, you’re still a stranger. People won’t refer you if they feel you’re going to let them down.

Your profession matters to inspire confidence

The more significant the business being referred to is, the greater the risk to the referrer’s reputation. If you’re a florist, it may take only a week or two for people who try your services to recommend you on the basis of their experience with you. The risk associated with referring a florist is usually small unless you’re bidding on a large wedding that also might be your referrer’s top client. If you’re a financial advisor, it may take you six months or a year to reach the critical confidence level. However, since the stakes are higher, your referrer stands to gain more if the results are successful.

No matter what line of work you’re in, if you don’t perform well, your referrer will learn of it and you may not get another referral from that source.

Educate others about your business to inspire confidence

Don’t assume your fellow networkers understand your company or industry well enough to refer you confidently. You have to educate them and keep on educating them as long as you’re in business.

A networking group like BNI is ideal because everybody is expected to address the group at regular intervals. Make your presentation interesting and stimulating. Tell them how your product or service improves others. Each time you speak, present a new aspect of your business. Let your knowledge and eloquence persuade them that you’re very good at what you do. You will inspire confidence and your name will come to mind whenever a referral opportunity arises.

If you’re following these simple tactics, then you are well along the road to getting all the referrals from others’ networks that you deserve by inspiring confidence to refer you.

Edify Your Referral Source

Edify Your Referral Sourcestring(26) "Edify Your Referral Source"

Here is a very important concept that is rarely discussed.  When you get a referral and you meet with the prospect, it is really important that you edify your referral source.  This is a great technique to use because you open up the discussion with the prospect by talking about an area of overlapping interest and knowledge – your mutual acquaintance.  Before you start talking about your business or even asking questions of the prospect – it is important that you edify your referral source.  Tell the prospect how much you respect the person that referred you and talk a little bit about that relationship and why it is so important to you that you give great service to anyone that this person refers.  Spend some time talking about how you both know this individual.  It is a fantastic way to warm up the referral and more importantly, it is a great opportunity to make your referral source look good for having made the referral.

Remember, the number one rule for referrals is to make your referral source look GREAT. You need to demonstrate that you know how to sell to the prospect in a way that doesn’t embarrass the source of your referral—that you’re going to consult with the prospect, discover their needs, offer solutions based on those needs, give them some options, and not force a sale if you know you can’t provide a good solution. On the other hand, if your technique is to hold the prospect hostage at his kitchen table until he breaks down and buys, your referral source will not be pleased that you’ve abused your relationship with them and damaged their relationship with your client. You may get the deal, but you’ve shut yourself off from further deals with that client—and with any future referrals from your source.

Always edify your referral source and act in a way that would make that person want to refer more people to you.

Summer Networking

Summer Networking Tipsstring(22) "Summer Networking Tips"

The temperature is rising and so are your summer networking opportunities!

Every once in a while I hear a BNI member say that their chapter slows down during the summer months. I also know of many chapters that flourish in the summer with new members and referral growth! So why are some up and some down? It is a matter of gearing towards the season by refocusing on referrals during your networking activities? Build your business while traveling on vacation too.

What summertime networking activities are you attending? These may not seem like networking activities, however, you should still always be prepared.

  • BBQ
  • Block Parties
  • Pool parties
  • Picnics
  • Ball games or sporting events
  • Music Festivals
  • Reunions
  • Parades
  • Or just some summertime fun:
    Golf, Boating, Traveling, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping or Gardening?

Barbecue / Block Party Networking!

Whether headed to a holiday block party blowout or a more intimate birthday celebration for a colleague, barbecues are a great chance to meet friends of friends and expand your professional network.

Make the most of your family barbecue. Bring a few sample products to the barbecue to give out to family and friends. Who better to help spread the word for you? If you are so inclined, ask attendees to bring a new friend with them to the event. More than likely, some family members will show up with uninvited guests anyway. The more the merrier, right? Use these opportunities to get to know people and share what you are looking for. You never know who they know! But don’t break out in a sales pitch at a barbecue. Ever. People are there to have fun, relax and enjoy.

Pool Party  / Picnic Networking:

Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately! Listen to what everyone is saying at your summertime activities. What topics are they mentioning?

Are they complaining about their business? 
Invite them to visit your BNI chapter.

Are they excited about a wedding?
Share about those members in your chapter that are good referrals for them.

Do they talk about their home being too hot in the summer and it costs too much to cool?
Talk about your HVAC or solar member.

Do they want to remodel their home or need to move homes?
It’s Referral time!

Ball Game / Sporting Event Networking:

A great networking strategy is to get tickets to a local ball game or sporting event and invite BNI members and potential referral partners you know to introduce to each other. Whether your team wins or loses, great connections can be made!

Music Festival Networking:

The hills are alive with the sound of networking. Music brings people from all different types of professional backgrounds together networking through all of the music and dancing at a music festival will be a challenge, but it can prove to be invaluable. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal– utilizing networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking, so don’t overlook anyone.

Networking at Reunions:

Summertime is the time for both family reunions and class reunions. These are essentially a gathering of (potentially) dozens of people who, despite the fact that they took various different professional paths, automatically have a great deal in common and genuinely want to see one another succeed. So if you’re looking for a job, a career change, industry advice or even if you’re just hoping to network within your field, attending your reunion could be just the ticket. The question is not whether you should attend your reunion, but how you will network effectively at the reunion.

The FOUR hour “one to one” Networking Foursome!

If you are a golfer, find a fellow BNI Member who also plays golf. Set up a round of golf and you each bring a favorite golf playing client to introduce to each other as a referral source for the other BNI member. What a great way to solidify a top referral source and score a ‘hole in one” referral yourself with someone else!

If you do not play golf? Is there a summertime activity that you do that you and a fellow member can invite clients to attend? (Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping,  or Gardening)

The GOAL?

Any place you go with family, friends or strangers is a networking opportunity!

  • Bring Your Business Cards! Bring your fellow BNI members’ business cards with you to all your summertime events!
  • Remember Your Fellow Members and make a goal for one referral per event you attend!
  • Who have you met at these summertime events that you can invite to your chapter as a visitor?

Here’s to a GREAT summer in the Northern Hemisphere filled with lots of referrals! Those BNI Members south of the Equator can wait to use these tips in December or try to network on the ski slopes.

30th wedding anniversary

30th Wedding Anniversary Thoughtsstring(33) "30th Wedding Anniversary Thoughts"

Yesterday my wife, Elisabeth, and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary together in the Champagne region of France.  We just left a BNI Conference in France and wanted to take a couple of days to celebrate alone.

This gave me time to reflect on the many ways she has been such an amazing life partner and I wrote down some of the things that I’ve said about her over these many years. She is the greatest referral of my lifetime.

Here are just a few 30th wedding anniversary thoughts:

  • You bring color to my black & white world. 
  •  I make the living and you make the living worthwhile.
  •  President John Adams always depended on Abigal Adams as his advisor and confidant. You have always been my “Mrs. Adams.”
  •  It’s hard being me – without you.
  •  You are always the most beautiful woman in a room.
  •  I am a compass and you are magnetic north. I will gravitate to you wherever you are.

She is my bride of 30 years. I wish her another 30 years together.

30th wedding anniversary

 

 

5.6 Billion People

Are We Now Connected to 5.6 Billion People Worldwide?string(53) "Are We Now Connected to 5.6 Billion People Worldwide?"

Here’s an interesting question:

“Hi Ivan – How are you? With BNI at 250,000 members in 70+ countries according to Dunbar we are all 1 degree of social connection from 38 million people, and 2 degrees from 5.6 Billion people (or about 3/4 of the worlds population). Dunbar says 150 people each so 250,000 x 150 x 150 = 5.6 billion people. Is this correct?” 

I received this question in my inbox and it is a very reasonable “Ask Ivan” question.  From a purely mathematical perspective it sounds true.  However, the short answer is, “sorry, no.”

The idea that 5.6 billion people are ALL connected by six people is a myth.

Here’s why.  The Dunbar Number is a sociological equation not a pure mathematical equation.  For example, if you use pure math you must assume that there is no overlap between the 150 people you know and the 150 people I know.  However, we both have many of the same 150 people in our own personal sphere (hence the sociological equation vs. a pure mathematical equation). In addition, don’t forget that Stanley Milgram’s “Six Degrees” is actually a fallacy.  Check out this short video as to why:

https://ivanmisner.com/santa-claus-easter-bunny-six-degrees-separation/

Sorry.  I don’t mean to be a “kill-joy.”  It was a good question.  Maybe the best question I’ve had in a long time.  I like the way you think. I highly recommend for everyone to please continue to send me your questions and I will attempt to answer as many as possible.

Currency

Relationships Are Currencystring(26) "Relationships Are Currency"

How can you deepen the relationships with people to get to the point where they will be be willing to help you out in the future? Here are four quick steps about relationship currency to get you moving in the right direction.

Social capital

Social capital is the international currency of networking, especially business networking. If you take as much care in raising and investing your social capital as you do your financial capital, you’ll find that the benefits that flow from these intangible investments will not only be rewarding in themselves, but they will multiply your material returns many times over.

How many times have you seen an entrepreneur, maybe even yourself, go to a networking event, meet a lot of good people, then leave and never talk to them again, right? It probably happens too often. Not because the entrepreneur doesn’t like them; it’s really because they haven’t had system to connect. New contacts are really where future business is often born. It’s meeting those new people and getting into visibility that leads to the rest of your business.

It’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important, but the ones that you turn into lasting relationships. You’ll always get better results trying to deepen relationships with people you already know than starting relationships with strangers.

Relationships are part of the fabric of the development of your social capital. You must keep investing in the relationship if you ever expect to make a withdrawal. 

 

Ivan’s Inner Circle

Tomorrow is the Unveiling of Ivan’s Inner Circlestring(50) "Tomorrow is the Unveiling of Ivan’s Inner Circle"

Ivan’s Inner Circle is addressing both of these pain points because I will be your mentor. I will teach everything I have learned over the past 30+ years in networking and referral generation, and our technology partner at Synduit will become the only marketing software you need to build and implement your marketing plan for the entire year. I have not been this excited in years because the impact that all of us will produce together will be seismic in the world, and it will also take your franchise to the next level while supporting all of your members as well.

The more I think about this launch, the more I realize how vital this program is to the success of small business owners and franchisers. Networking, referral generation, and marketing have become somewhat of a lost art and nearly every marketing software that I have ever seen is too complicated for the everyday user.

I am ready to share Ivan’s Inner Circle with you and anyone else you decide to invite during our official unveiling tomorrow – Tuesday, March 26 at 12 pm ET (9 am PT).

If you have not done so, please make sure to register here: https://tribe.synduit.com/IvanInnerCircle0001

Inner Circle

Be a Part of my Inner Circlestring(28) "Be a Part of my Inner Circle"

Networking, referral generation, and emotional intelligence still aren’t taught in colleges and universities and nearly every marketing software system that I have ever seen is too complicated for the everyday user. For the past decade I have been thinking about building an environment where I could easily share the top lessons and skills I have acquired on networking, referral marketing, time management, and scaling a company with a select inner circle.  I am pleased to say that I found the perfect partner to make these lessons an absolute game-changer for business people.

Ivan’s Inner Circle

I am really excited, because after 10-years of contemplating this idea, my friends at Synduit have developed a program they call “Ivan’s Inner Circle” which will officially launch on Tuesday, March 26 at 12 pm ET (9 am PT) during a FREE live webinar and Q&A.

I will be your mentor. I will teach everything I have learned over the past 30+ years in networking and referral generation. Our technology partner will become the only marketing software you need to build and implement your marketing plan for the entire year. Allow me to mentor you on networking, referral generation, and marketing with the simplest marketing software for your business that you will ever find.

Who’s in Your Network?

The first webinar topic is: “Who’s in Your Network?”  It is a spin on the content from Who’s in Your Room? but it is specifically aimed at BNI members and networking. Please invite other business people you know to this experience too.

I invite you to please join me by registering here: https://tribe.synduit.com/IvanInnerCircle0001

I have not been this excited in a long time, and I am eager for you to take part in this monumental launch of “Ivan’s Inner Circle”.

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