What Does It Take for You to Refer Someone?string(43) "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 Businessstring(47) "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.

Social Capital Taught in College?string(33) "Social Capital Taught in College?"

UniversityOfLaVerne

About a year ago, I posted a blog called:  “Networking, a Soft Science? Only to College Professors!”  OK, I’ll admit it–I was on a rant about how we don’t teach networking in colleges or universities.  But in my defense, there were many, many, people who identified with this frustration according to the numerous comments posted on that blog.

Today, I’m here to tell you that there may actually be a change on the horizon.  Yes, a university dean who believes that social capital is a relevant topic in business.  “Not possible,” you say?  Well, that’s what I thought, too, until I met Ibrahim Helou, the new dean of the School of Business & Public Management at the University of LaVerne.

Ibrahim "Abe" Helou

Ibrahim “Abe” Helou

As crazy as this may sound, he actually believes that emotional intelligence and social capital are relevant topics to cover in business school.  To make this even more amazing, Helou’s background is in accounting and finance. Wow, I don’t know what to say. This just shakes up my whole world view about academia.

According to Helou, business should focus on issues relating to long-term organizational sustainability.  He says that the “three pillars” of organizational sustainability are: people, planet and prosperity.

The “people” part includes long-term employment, social capital and empowerment.  The planet involves social and ethical responsibility and prosperity is about the long-term financial success of the organization.

Did you notice that “long-term” is a recurring theme here?  I did.  He believes that there has been an overemphasis on short-term profits to address monthly or quarterly revenue reporting in corporations.  This short-term view has helped lead us into some of the current financial issues we are experiencing today.

Well, Dr. Helou, I’m impressed, especially with your interest in social capital and emotional intelligence.  Now all you need to do is convince the faculty.  Let me know how that works out for you.  🙂

Love

Do What You Love And You’ll Love What You Dostring(50) "Do What You Love And You’ll Love What You Do"

As an adjunct university professor for almost 20 years, I would often have students say to me, “What kind of business or profession should I consider going into right now?”  I would respond by asking them, “What do you like to do?  What do you really enjoy?” They’d respond by saying something like . . . “No, no, you don’t understand, I’m asking what I should do?” And I’d reply back by saying . . . “No, you don’t understand, what do you love to do?  What are you really interested in?”

They’d look back at me, obviously perplexed, and stutter out something about trying to figure out what a good profession to go into would be or what kind of business they should start. I would proceed to explain to them that you can’t achieve sustained success over time without doing something you love.  Therefore, they should think about what they really enjoy doing and look for opportunities in those areas.  

According to the NFIB (the National Federation of Independent Business), it’s estimated that 60 percent of all businesses started in the late ’90s “were based on hobbies or personal interests.” More and more you see people turning their dreams into their livelihood.

I saw a great example of this in action when I attended a fundraiser for Azusa Pacific University over the weekend.  During the evening, the program highlighted a graduate from the physics department. His name is Steven Moser. He graduated in 2001 from the university. After graduation, he worked at NASA’s JPL in Pasadena.  While Moser was working at JPL, a close family member died in a tragic accident. Moser and his wife (who also had a very successful career) evaluated their lives and decided to make a major change. They chose to pursue a hobby they had had for some time, making all-natural body care products and turning it into a full-time business. This would enable them to work from home, spend time with the family and do what they really love.

Steven’s company is called Anti-Body. It not only offers all-natural body-care products, but it also promotes global fair trade. It sources all its raw materials directly from workers in developing countries, creating sustainability for those that might be exploited in most markets.

This is a great example of doing what you love and loving what you do. Moser changed the course of his life to do what he loves.  His business seems to be thriving, and he definitely loves what he is doing.

I understand that loving what you do is no guarantee that you’ll be successful. However, I am equally confident that if you’re not happy at what you’re doing, you can never achieve any sustainable success over time. So if you’re thinking about starting your own business, do what I used to tell my children when they couldn’t figure out what ice cream they wanted to eat. Stick your tongue out. Wave it around. What does it feel like? Pick something you really want. You’ll be happier (and I’m not talking just about ice cream).

Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital Worldstring(66) "Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World"

Earlier this month Susan RoAne’s latest book, Face to Face: How to Reclaim the Personal Touch in a Digital World, was released. I think it is an essential read for everyone interested in becoming a better networker.

Susan has been a good friend of mine for years, and she is one of the few people I know whom I can confidently say is the epitome of a born networker.  In her new book, she uses her innate charm, grace, humor and rare networking know-how to teach people everywhere how to communicate like an expert and stand out positively in both business and personal situations.

The world is becoming more and more reliant on technology as a way of connecting, and Susan’s techniques and strategies for making and maintaining genuine connections show people how to let technology enhance life instead of dominating it.  Her advice is extremely effective, and the skills she teaches are important for networkers and everyday people alike to remember.

To find out more about Susan RoAne and Face to Face, click here.

Get Value for Your Timestring(23) "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 Eventsstring(21) "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?

International Passion Daystring(25) "International Passion Day"

This week celebrates International Passion Day. With that celebration comes the release of the paperback version of The Passion Test written by good friends of mine Chris and Janet Attwood.

According to the Attwoods, “80 percent of the population is not passionate about what they do for a living!” Ouch. That’s amazing (but not surprising) to me.

I really love this book, and I highly recommend it. They have done a great job of creating a system that really allows you to hone your thoughts down to a point where you can understand and appreciate what your true passions are.

Take a look at their website and their book; you’ll be glad you did.

Become a Networking Catalyststring(28) "Become a Networking Catalyst"

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no mechanic. In fact, when I was a kid, my father (who can fix just about anything) brought me out to the garage one day and said, “Son, you’d better go to college because you’re never going to make a living with your hands.” Well, that was great advice, Dad. I think things have worked out pretty well with that suggestion.

Fully acknowledging my lack of skills as a mechanic, I can, however, tell you how a catalytic converter relates to networking your business.

By definition, a catalyst is an agent that initiates a reaction. In networking, a catalyst is someone who makes things happen. Without a catalyst, there is no spark, and not much gets done.

So, what would it take for you to become a catalyst for your business and your network? Four things: initiative, intention, confidence and motivation.

Initiative. Catalytic people don’t sit still–they make things happen in all aspects of their lives. As networkers, they stay alert for a problem that needs solving, then spring into action, calling on someone from their network to solve the problem. They operate with a “get it done now” mentality.

Intention. Catalytic people operate with intent and are goal-driven. As networkers, catalytic people have both business and networking goals. They learn the goals of others in order to help people get where they wish to be.

Confidence. Catalytic people have confidence in themselves and in the players on their team. This helps to ensure that the task at hand will be accomplished with stellar results.

Motivation. Catalytic people are not only motivated themselves, but they also can motivate others to perform at their highest potential. These people excite others to contribute, sharing their energy and excitement through their words and actions. They are motivated by personal and professional rewards that they can’t wait to share with others, and they desperately want to help others succeed.

To set your network in motion toward helping your business, make it your goal to become a catalytic person. Think of your network as a row of standing dominoes. Each domino will remain standing until you act upon the first domino. As a catalyst, you must tap the first domino to watch the chain reaction of tumbling dominoes. Your network is standing in place, waiting for you to set the pieces in motion.

Volunteer and Become Visiblestring(28) "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 Futurestring(29) "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.

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