Are You an Active Networker or a Passive Networker?string(51) "Are You an Active Networker or a Passive Networker?"

I was talking with a business woman recently who is fairly new to networking and I was explaining that networking is a contact sport–that it requires people to get out there and actively and strategically build relationships.  At one point she asked, “Well, what exactly does that involve? . . . What defines ‘active’ networking?”

This is actually a great question because it opens up a discussion about not only  what it means to be an ‘active’ networker but also what it means to be a ‘passive’ networker.

Actively networking with others means you invite those people to one or more of the networking organizations you belong to, carry several of their business cards with you all the time, and above all, refer them whenever you have an opportunity to do so.  Active networking also means having a reciprocal relationship with others.

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We prefer doing business with people who do business with us.  Why give your business to someone who’s not willing to return the favor?  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of competent, dependable business professionals in your area who provide any given product or service.  They don’t have to buy something from you to reciprocate.  They can join one of your networking groups, carry your business cards, or simply refer you to people looking for your product or service.

Passively networking with others means that you use them as a resource occasionally but for some reason cannot actively network with them.  It may be because they represent a narrow market where you have no way of assisting.  Perhaps they’ve told you they’re not interested in participating in any networking organizations.  Maybe they’re located too far away to refer to them regularly.

Now that you know the difference between active networking and passive networking, strengthen your networking strategy by making it a point to:

1.  Identify members of your information, support, and referral network components.

2.  Spot the voids and weaknesses in your network, and work to improve and fill it with valuable members.

 

Try pinpointing one person this week to actively and strategically build a relationship with.  What can you do to begin to form a connection with them?  I welcome your questions and comments in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Networking Is Not a Short Term Strategystring(39) "Networking Is Not a Short Term Strategy"

In this video, I talk to my friend, French networking expert Marc-William Attie, about why networking is not a short term strategy and also why the long term commitment that goes along with networking is well worth your while.

Marc demonstrates the value of putting effort into networking by telling the story of an architect who spent three years building relationships with fellow networkers without receiving any significant referrals and then received a referral worth $300,000.00 . . . a payoff that was definitely worth the wait!

Do you have any stories about how your networking efforts have paid off in big ways?  Is so, please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Do You Have Excessive Helper Genes?string(35) "Do You Have Excessive Helper Genes?"

I recently met with several members of my company’s Executive Management Team in Croatia and it was there that I had the opportunity to film this quick video with Frederick Marcoux, a good friend of mine who is also the National Director for BNI in Australia.

Frederick has an interesting concept that he likes to call “Excessive Helper Genes” and in this video, he talks about why this concept is at the very core of networking.  Frederick explains that having Excessive Helper Genes is a key trait in those who excel at networking because they are constantly building trust and goodwill with those in their network.

I really like this concept because networking at its center is built around helping others; if we maintain a focus on helping, we can network absolutely anywhere at any time.

So, do you have Excessive Helper Genes? . . . Do your Excessive Helper Genes perhaps need a boost?  What can you do this week to strengthen your focus on helping others?  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

How to Get People to Refer Business to Youstring(42) "How to Get People to Refer Business to You"

Over the years, I’ve run into countless people who believe that joining groups and organizations and becoming active by volunteering, taking on responsibilities and working side-by-side with other people on a common goal will cause people to get to know them and refer business to them.  However, this is not how things work.

(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

(Image courtesy of stockimages / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Granted, it’s easy to think that if you rub elbows with someone long enough he or she will spontaneously start sending you business opportunities. But that’s really nothing more than an entitlement mentality.

Getting referrals usually takes three things: visibility, credibility and profitability.  Ordinary participation in an organization, even a strong-contact referral group, will get you visibility and perhaps some credibility; it won’t automatically get you profitability.  That takes a much more focused approach, along with some explicit talk about the kinds of referrals you want.

By nature, referral relationships are rewarding and valuable when they are created purposefully and by design. If you are assuming that the idea of giving you referrals is going to pop into someone’s head spontaneously if you hang around long enough, you are definitely misunderstanding what a referral relationship is supposed to be.

Woody Allen once said that “90 percent of success is just showing up,” but he wasn’t talking about referral marketing.  “Just showing up” will get you a seat at the table, but you have to pass the food to others and snag your own steak whenever it comes around.  It’s not “netsit” or “neteat“–it’s network!”  If you want to build your business through referrals, you have to learn how to deliberately work the networks to which you belong.

You see, participating in a group is one thing; performing is another.  To get referrals, you have to perform.  If you don’t perform–talk specifics about your business, your specialties and your ideal referral, and refer business to others in your group–how are they going to know what you do and what you need?  You have to take specific actions to let people know how they can refer business to you.  Being a good citizen is the right thing to do, but it’s not enough to get you the referrals you need to run your business by word-of-mouth marketing–you need to actively feed and water your referral relationships, so to speak, in order to significantly grow your business through referrals.

So, what specific actions can you take this week to let people know how to refer business to you?  I’d love to hear your ideas–please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Networking: Men, Women, and Diversitystring(37) "Networking: Men, Women, and Diversity"

Charlie&Ivan-MvWIN

 

In this video (click on the graphic above to access the video), I speak with Charlie Lawson, networking expert and National Director of BNI® UK & Ireland, to unfold the differences between men and women in networking.  While men tend to be more transactional in the way they network, women are more relational and understanding these differences can really be an advantage when it comes to achieving success from your networking efforts.

During a survey of 12,000 people, it was found that those who are more relational gain more business and are overall more proficient networkers.  However, just because women are more likely to generate new business through referrals, this doesn’t mean that only they should have a place in networking groups.  In order to have the most successful networking group possible, there needs to be a great amount of diversity.  It’s ideal to have a blend of different people because that diversity is an important aspect of successful networking.

The more diverse a group is, the more connected it becomes.  When networking groups become more connected, deeper relationships are formed, ultimately leading to more referrals and greater success.

Do you or your networking group have any good tactics for seeking out a diverse array of professionals with whom to network?   If so, please share them in the comment forum below.  If not, make it your goal this week to come up with some ways to do so–you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of untapped potential for new referrals to gain! 

Classic Video Feature–“Making a Difference in Someone’s Life”string(85) "Classic Video Feature–“Making a Difference in Someone’s Life”"

I have been doing video blogs for quite a few years now and it occurred to me that some of the videos I’ve previously posted focus on timeless topics that deserve to be revisited and not buried way back in the video blog archive.  For this reason, I’ve decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the first one–“Making a Difference in Someone’s Life.”

There are little ways and big ways of making a difference in someone’s life.  More likely than not, there’s someone you can immediately call to mind who has impacted you and really made a difference in your life, whether it happened recently or even back during your formative years.

There are definitely certain individuals in my life who have made a big difference for me and in this five minute video, I tell the story of how one of these people in specific really made a positive impact on my life back in high school and helped shape me into who I am today simply by believing in me and giving me a chance when it seemed that no one else would.

After watching the video, please share a story of your own in the comment forum below about a person you are grateful to for the way they positively influenced your life and made a difference for you.  Taking this opportunity to tell your story and publicly recognize a special person who impacted you is a great way to show them gratitude and a fantastic way to inspire others to strive to be positive influences themselves.

 

The Three Step “Follow-up Formula”string(38) "The Three Step “Follow-up Formula”"

Follow-up is one of the most challenging aspects of networking for many networkers and I often get asked the question; “What is a good system for following-up with the people you meet at networking events?”  In my opinion, here is one of the best ways to follow-up – it’s called the 24/7/30 system.

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Master isolated images / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

When you meet someone at a networking event, drop them a note within the first 24 hours.  It can be a personal handwritten note or an email, just make sure to use whatever approach that you will do consistently.

Within 7 days, connect with them on social media.  Make a connection via LinkedIn or Facebook.  Follow them on Twitter or join them on Google+.  Find ways to connect and engage with them via the social media platform(s) you are most active on.  Do NOT do this as a way to “sell” to them, do it as a way to start to establish a meaningful connection with them.

Within 30 days reach out to them to set up a 1-2-1 meeting.  If you live near each other, meet in person (that is almost always best).  If you are far from one another, set up a meeting via Skype or by phone.  At this meeting find out more about what they do and look for ways to help them in some way.  Don’t make it a “sales call” make it a relationship building opportunity.

If you do the 24/7/30 approach to your follow-up, you will establish a powerful routine that will help you to make your networking efforts meaningful and successful.

Do you do something similar to this?  Share with me here any other suggestions you’ve got and what you think of this approach.

 

Treat Loyalty Like Royaltystring(26) "Treat Loyalty Like Royalty"

In this video, my lovely wife Beth brings up a phrase she has often heard me mention in many of my presentations and in various conversations over the years–“Treat Loyalty Like Royalty”–and she asks me to explain what exactly the phrase means to me.  Beth goes on to reveal that she believes just as strongly as I do in the importance of treating people like royalty when they’ve consistently shown you loyalty and commitment in one way or another.

Whether they are employees or people you do business with, if you treat others like royalty when they show you loyalty, your ‘return on investment,’ so to speak will be beyond worth your efforts.  After watching the video, I’d love to hear about some of your experiences where you’ve worked with someone who has been loyal to you and how treating them very well in return has been well worth your efforts . . . or, also, how you worked with someone who you were very loyal to, how they treated you like royalty, and how it paid off for both parties in the long run.  Please share your story/stories in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

How to Meet the RIGHT Peoplestring(28) "How to Meet the RIGHT People"

A networking event is not–I repeat not–designed to bring strangers together for the purpose of referring themselves to one another.  Why would you refer yourself to someone you barely know?  A typical networking event is designed to have people who don’t know one another meet and mingle.  But for a networking event to be fully productive for you, you must meet the right people for the right reasons.  Meeting the right people will make a positive impact on your business and give you a high return on your networking investment.

Handshake

Image courtesy of jannoon028 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

So, at a networking event, how exactly do you identify the right people to meet?  You do this by considering two types of individuals: those serving your preferred clients and those who have the potential to help you meet your business goals.  Today I’d like to focus on looking at those who serve the same professional client as you.  “Hey, aren’t those folks likely to be my competitors?” you might wonder.  Not necessarily.

Consider these two examples:

  • Lorraine is a real estate agent whose preferred clients are retired home owners or empty nesters with assets over $1 million, who love to travel, are country club members, and seriously pamper their pets.  Other suppliers for their services might include high-end salons and spas, professional landscapers, financial advisors, country club owners, travel agents, home-cleaning service providers, and pet resorts.
  • Tanya is the owner of a direct-mail company that targets colleges and universities.  When Tanya could not determine who else serviced the decision makers at the university, her marketing coach asked her if she had a current client in that preferred market.  She said yes.  Then she was asked, “How well do you know her?  Will she take your call?  Would she grant you thirty minutes of her time?”  Tanya emphatically replied, “Yes!”  Her coach then suggested that she schedule a purposeful meeting and sit down with her to pick her brain on who she grants her time to and who else supports her needs.

Your preferred clients have many suppliers for their needs and it could be in your best interest to connect and build relationships with those other suppliers so, when networking, you want to focus on meeting these people.  The answers to the questions that were asked of Tanya helped direct her to the people she should be searching for while networking.  You can gain the same benefit by having a similar conversation with one of your preferred clients and asking questions like these: “Who else solves your daily problems?” ; “Who do you allow in the door?” ; “What companies do you call on when you need (product)?” ; “Whom do you trust when it comes to helping you (type of service)?”

At networking events, look for name tags that fit specific professional categories you’re seeking to cultivate.  If you meet a professional who services your preferred client–and you like the individual as a person–consider this the first step in building a new relationship.  If you build a trusting and giving relationship with someone who provides services for your preferred client market, it stands to reason that your referral potential will increase dramatically.  Remember that in a true tri-win (that’s win-win-win) relationship, that person’s referral potential will also increase, and the client will get the best service possible.

Be sure to come back next week as I’ll be posting specifically about the other types of people you want to focus on meeting while networking–those who can help you meet your business goals.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear any stories you may have about how you successfully built a relationship with someone who serves the same professional client as you do and how that relationship has benefited you and/or the other service provider .  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below–thanks!

 

 

When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?string(42) "When Is It Appropriate to Ask for a Favor?"

In this video, I discuss how to identify and prepare for the appropriate time to ask for a favor within the context of a business relationship.

I explain how the concept of social capital is a key factor when it comes to asking favors and I tell a personal story where a business associate of mine named Alex went about building social capital with me in the absolute perfect way.

Watch the video now to learn the ONE thing you need to have with someone before you ask a favor of them and, also, how to spot when it would be a big mistake for you say yes to favors when you’re asked to do them by other people.

Do you have a story about how you built social capital with someone in a great way, how someone else built social capital with you in a memorable way, or how someone asked you for a favor when it wasn’t the right time?  I’d love to hear these stories as well as any other stories you might have that are related to this topic. Please share them in the comment forum below–thanks!

Did You Know That Simply Making People Feel Welcome Can Grow Your Network?string(74) "Did You Know That Simply Making People Feel Welcome Can Grow Your Network?"

I made this video with Australian networking master Paul Lomas back in 2012 and the ideas Paul shares in it are so important and timeless that I think it’s time to give this video some additional airplay.

Paul’s ideas about the simple act of making people feel welcome when they arrive at networking meetings and events are remarkably powerful. He also gives a very useful tip on how to give a great response when someone asks how you are doing in order to create an opportunity for positive, genuine connections.

The video emphasizes the importance of the visitor’s experience to a networking group and how it can very significantly shape their choice regarding whether or not to return to that group.  Sometimes it can be much too easy to get comfortable in networking groups and neglect visitors.  For that reason, I urge you to watch this short video because it’s a great reminder of just how important it is to genuinely make visitors welcome in order to grow your network and make your networking group as successful as it can possibly be.

Do you have any good tips or stories about how you or others in your networking group make others feel welcome?  Please share them in the comments forum so others can learn from your tactics for successfully meeting, greeting, and making visitors feel at home.  Thanks! 

 

Two Keys to Finding the Right Networking Partnersstring(49) "Two Keys to Finding the Right Networking Partners"

I once received an interesting e-mail from a man who read an article I wrote about collaboration and working together.  He said, “The type of networking you talk about describes the way things should work, but in the real world most people seem to have an attitude of what’s in it for me.”  He asked, “How can I prevent wasting my time and efforts on people, only to find that they have this kind of attitude?”

The short answer to his question is this—stop hanging out with the wrong kind of people and start actively seeking out the right kind of people.  Trust me, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to getting stuck with the wrong people and in order to move beyond that and build the kind of network that wants to help YOU (knowing that you also want to help them) is a journey—not a destination.

I have two suggestions to make finding the right networking partners easier. First, look for some of the signs relating to people who fit the profile of good networkers.  They include:

  • People who ask how they can help you or what they can offer you (and mean it), before they ask anything from you.
  • Individuals who show that they are willing to work on creating a professional relationship over a period of time because they understand that they must develop credibility with you before asking for your business or your referrals.
  • Those who make the time to go beyond the normal business interactions with those from whom they want to be able to ask for support.
  • Professionals who understand that networking is more about farming than hunting and show it in their actions by making the effort to get to know you outside of the business environment whenever possible, knowing that the more of a friendship there is between you, the more expectations you can both have from each other’s networking efforts.
  • People who do what they can to bring business and contacts to you and their other networking partners, who share pertinent information with you, and invite you to business meetings that’ll position you favorably with others you need to get to know.
  • Individuals who give of their time and knowledge in order to help their referral sources succeed.

Second, immerse yourself in the process of relationship building.   

A network that is a mile wide and an inch deep is not a strong network.  Create a personal network that is both wide and deep.  Meeting with people regularly is the key to making this happen.  Participate in networking groups where you are going to see the same people on a regular basis.  This will help you develop relationships and screen out the what’s in it for me networkers.

Think about your current networking partners . . . who is one of your most trusted, most valued networking partners?  I’d love to hear the story behind how you met this person and how you formed such a trusted, mutually beneficial networking partnership.  Please share your story in the comments section–thanks!

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