Empty Your Purse Into Your Headstring(31) "Empty Your Purse Into Your Head"

Most entrepreneurs pay lip service to education! OK, maybe not you . . . you’re actually taking the time to read an article on business. I’m talking about the average entrepreneur.

Ask a number of businesspeople if they’d be willing to attend a seminar on building their business, and three-quarters of those in the room will raise their hand and say yes! Tell them that it is four weeks from tomorrow at 7 p.m., and only a handful will actually sign up!

It used to surprise me when I heard that 50 percent of all businesses fail in their first three years. Now that I’ve been in business for several decades and have seen many entrepreneurs come and go, I’m somewhat surprised that 50 percent actually make it past three years!

Maybe I’m being a little harsh . . . but not much. One thing I’ve learned is that most successful entrepreneurs embrace a “culture of learning” in order to excel. Personal and professional self-development is a journey–not a destination. It’s always a work in progress. Often, businesspeople get so caught up working “in” their business that they forget to spend time working “on” their business. Part of working “on” a business is one’s professional development.

Benjamin Franklin once said; “If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the highest return.”

With that in mind, here’s an action item for you this week. Look at your financials (or checkbook, or credit-card statements) for the past year. What have you spent for any type of ongoing business education? If you aren’t “emptying some of your purse into your head,” take a few minutes to think about what you want to learn to help you build your business–and sign up for something this week! Don’t put it off any longer.

If you want to earn more, you need to learn more! Oh, and reading this blog from time to time won’t hurt, either.

Go the Extra Milestring(17) "Go the Extra Mile"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 29% Solution: 52 Weekly Networking Success Strategies

Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Six Degrees of Separationstring(55) "Santa Claus, Easter Bunny and Six Degrees of Separation"

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Notworking’ is Sometimes Goodstring(42) "‘Notworking’ is Sometimes Good"

It’s not called “net-sit” or “net-eat,” it’s called NetWORK! Effective networking is all about learning how to work your network effectively and appropriately.

I also believe that there are times to “notwork.” As a matter of fact, I’m fairly confident that when I’m 70 years old, I won’t say, “Gee, I wish I spent more time at the office.”

BigBearDeckDay

I believe that we entrepreneurs, business professionals and salespeople need to make sure to take time to . . . notwork. I do my best “notworking” at my lodge in Big Bear Lake, California. I’m writing this blog from my deck, pictured here during the day (above) and again at night (below).

BigBearDeckNight

Each year we have a family tradition that each family member gets to pick two things that we all do together during the time we are up here. We type it up and, as each item is completed, the family member puts his or her initials next to his or her item, and we post it on the refrigerator (we have nine years posted there so far). Last night my daughter chose S’mores around the campfire. Today, my son chose a “mental health day” (in the Misner family this means nobody in and nobody out–we hang around the house, watch TV, read, play games and mostly veg).

Success is many things to many people. To me, it’s having the time to spend in a place I love with the people I love. That is true success.

Sometimes, “notworking” is a very good thing.

Networking On Your Business Channelstring(35) "Networking On Your Business Channel"

I wanted to let everyone know about a great online resource called YourBusinessChannel.com that I recently started working with. Since the beginning of this year I have recorded seven online TV shows discussing networking tips for YourBusinessChannel.com, and I am impressed with the fact that the site offers free access to viewers everywhere and broadcasts shows based on viewer feedback.

I’m constantly encouraging people to respond to my own blogs and podcasts because it lets me know what kind of information people are really in need of, and it helps me post information that’s globally relevant to as many entrepreneurs as possible. I really like the fact that YourBusinessChannel recognizes the importance of viewer feedback, and I think that the value it places on the audience’s needs and opinions is reflected in the quality material covered on its shows.

The shows covers advice and information from top experts on subjects such as social networking, employer branding, increasing profitability, e-mail marketing, etc., and anybody can access them at any time.

To learn more about YourBusinessChannel, CLICK HERE.

 

The Hard Path is Easierstring(23) "The Hard Path is Easier"

I am writing to you today from beautiful Vail, Colorado, while attending a meeting of the Transformational Leadership Council. TLC is a group made up of trainers and “thought leaders” helping to transform people’s lives in various ways.

During the five days of seminars and meetings, I had an opportunity to sit in on a presentation by Steve D’Annunzio that I felt compelled to write about. Steve spoke of many things, but one point that really resonated with me was his discussion of taking the easy path or the hard path in the decisions that we make throughout life.

He said, “taking the hard path often makes life easier and taking the easy path often makes life harder!”

I thought about how that applies to what I teach people in business. I’ve used a phrase for years: “It’s not net-sit or net-eat, it’s net-work! If you want to be successful in your networking efforts, you have to work the process consistently and regularly. I see people nod their heads in agreement and then go out and continue to go through the motions of networking and relationship building, refusing to do the hard work necessary to create a powerful network.

The real irony of this is that those are the same people who later say this “networking” thing doesn’t work for them, and they continue to struggle in business. They take the easy path, and business continues to be hard. On the other hand, I see many people who truly work hard at building relationships and going deep in their networking efforts. These are the people who consistently see great results over time. What seems like hard work at first leads to things being easier for them later.

He asked, “Are you practicing hard/easy or are you practicing easy/hard in your life?

A powerful question with significant meaning. So, I’d love to hear from you. What have you done in your life that seemed hard but made life easier or, what have you done that seemed easy but made life harder?

Get Published Without the Hasslestring(32) "Get Published Without the Hassle"

I’ve always said that writing books and articles is a great way to help establish visibility and credibility in your networking efforts. Fortunately, it’s just gotten easier to “distribute” what you’ve written.

I recently had an opportunity to spend the day “telling stories” with an old friend, Mark Victor Hansen (co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series). It had been a long time since we had spoken, and we did a little reminiscing about our past experiences.

We also talked about our recent projects. Mark spoke about his goal to help people share their books and articles with the world. As a result of that effort, he helped create YouPublish.com, a website that enables anyone to publish his or her books or articles online. (Mark’s wearing a YouPublish.com hat in the photo, in case you wondered why he’s pointing to his head.) The great thing about the site is that you can produce and release new works quickly, distribute your library of unpublished works, expand your readership base and get introduced to international markets.

The website allows you either to distribute your material for free or to charge for the content if you wish. It’s up to you. YouPublish handles all the administration, which makes for a user-friendly and hassle-free site. I’m really impressed with YouPublish, and I think it provides a much-needed, extremely useful service. Since talking to Mark about the site, I’ve personally uploaded a number of my books and articles for distribution via this digital format at YouPublish.com/Networking.

Take a look. There’s no upfront cost, and the site offers a great service. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Afraid of Public Speaking?string(26) "Afraid of Public Speaking?"

Public speaking is one of the best ways to build your network by making yourself visible to large groups of people. Unfortunately, to some degree, many people are afraid of public speaking. I’ve stood in front of groups of people and given speeches and presentations all over the world, and I’ll be the first to admit that standing in front of an audience and talking while all eyes are on you can sometimes be intimidating. That’s no reason to miss out on the amazing opportunity to grow your network through public speaking.

Here are five suggestions for people who are nervous doing presentations at their networking groups or otherwise:

1. Prepare an outline of what you want to say and practice it.

2. Be specific and only talk about the things you know best.

3. Use handouts, visuals or PowerPoint slides to help carry you through the talk.

4. You’re the expert–think of ways to show it that aren’t threatening to you.

5. Be creative and think of ways you’re comfortable with to communicate your information.

The Word of Mouth Manualstring(24) "The Word of Mouth Manual"

I just ran across a good e-book on word of mouth that I definitely think is worth a read. The book is called the Word of Mouth Manual by Dave Balter and is available free as a downloadable here. You can also buy a hardcopy version of the book from Amazon.

The process of word-of-mouth marketing and networking are, in many ways, inextricably tied. I teach people how to network to build visibility and credibility in order to generate referrals (word of mouth). Although this book doesn’t really talk about networking, it thoroughly covers the process of word of mouth, primarily from an advertising and marketing perspective. However, it offers several valuable insights for both networking and word of mouth.

Here are a few key points from the book:

  • There is a growing emergence of the “shared collective experience.” People love to share their experiences–good, bad, and otherwise.

  • What is a word-of-mouth conversation actually worth monetarily? One study says it’s “worth 1,000 times more than a standard ad impression” (arguably a high estimate). Dave offers a formula on page 33 that is worth consideration.

  • “From the outside, word of mouth seems like an awfully easy channel to tap into . . . But the reality is that the power of the medium is affected by the most subtle of social norms. It’s about how we talk to each other and what makes us willing to share our opinions, which makes it a more flexible and fluid medium than any other.”

I don’t completely agree with the comments about word of mouth and cultural differences. Often people point to the fact that every culture is different and, therefore, there are concerns about “word of mouth” transcending cultural differences.

In my opinion, what is generally overlooked is that word of mouth in different countries doesn’t happen outside the cultural context; it happens inside the cultural context. Cultural differences become an issue when Americans are trying to work with Brits, Brits are trying to work with Scandinavians, Scandinavians with Malaysians or Malaysians with Australians, etc. But word of mouth tends to work well when it happens primarily within a specific cultural context (There’s a whole blog I can do on this subject!).

Suffice it to say that I’m not in complete agreement with Balter on this issue, but I completely recommend the book as a valuable read to anyone who wants to build his or her business through word of mouth.

Simple Rules for Successful Networkingstring(38) "Simple Rules for Successful Networking"

While reading an older edition of an online newsletter affiliated with my networking organization, I ran across an article that stood out to me because it creatively compares networking to swimming and gives some useful advice on how to network successfully at events. Michael Goldberg, the author of the article, is a speaker and writer who founded his own consulting business. I’ve paraphrased his 12 very simple rules for successful networking (You may also CLICK HERE to read the full article).

1. Dress appropriately.
2. Always equip yourself with business cards and a pen.
3. Network only–no selling allowed.
4. Be prepared to ask questions–about them.
5. Greet and introduce others with passion.
6. If there is a connection, ask for his or her business card.
7. Hand out your business card (when asked).
8. Have a buddy system, and help others.
9. Know your purpose, and only share it when asked.
10. Spend more time listening, and less time talking
11. Know when the conversation is over, and mingle with others.
12. Make a friend (or two), and have fun.

To learn more about Michael, visit www.MichaelGoldbergspeaks.com.

Networking is Simple But Not Easystring(33) "Networking is Simple But Not Easy"

Networking is simple; it’s just not easy. If it were easy, everyone would do it and do it well… and people don’t! This not a blog piece about the step-by-step process you need to employ to network effectively. No, this is to get you to stop and think about all the articles, books, blogs, podcasts and audios that you have read or listened to and aren’t following. This is an article to get you to stop and think about what you should be doing rather than what you know (or should know).

I do presentations around the world talking about how to apply networking to your everyday life. Sometimes I have someone come up to me and say, “I’ve heard people talk about some of those things before.”  Hearing it for a year versus doing it for a year are completely different things. Success is about the “doing,” not just the “knowing.” In fact, I believe that ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice! The only thing more powerful is knowledge on fire.

There are so many things in life that look simple but are, in fact, not easy. Cooking is one of those for me. It always looks so simple. My wife can go into the kitchen and put a gourmet meal together in 30 to 40 minutes. Then I get into the kitchen and burn water.

Small repairs around the house–these things look so simple. Then I pick up a hammer and, well, it’s just not pretty. That’s when I’m reminded that I’m missing the”handyman gene.” It skips a generation in my family. My dad can fix anything. He’s incredibly capable with a toolbox. I’m not. When I was 17 he brought me into the garage and solemnly said to me, “Son, you’d better go to college, because you’re never going to make a living with your hands!” Good advice, Dad. Thanks.

Golf. Looks simple, right? I’m not talking about professional competition, I mean just going out and smacking the ball around some grass. Looks simple. I’ve learned however, that it’s not easy.

There are so many things in our lives that look simple but are not easy. Networking is one of them. It’s a skill. A skill that takes commitment and effort to learn and apply consistently.

So I’m giving you an assignment (sorry, my inner professor is coming out). Your assignment after reading this blog today is to think of one idea in a book, article, recording–anything–that you’ve read or heard over the past year or so that you wanted to apply to your life but never got around to doing. Your assignment is to find that article, locate that “something” you wanted to do and do it within the next seven days. If it’s something you do on an ongoing basis, then find a way to incorporate it into your life and/or your business. All excuses are equal – just do it.

Success is the uncommon application of common knowledge. You have the knowledge. Now apply it with uncommon commitment. It won’t be easy. But I assure you it’s simple.

Storytelling and Business? Absolutely!string(38) "Storytelling and Business? Absolutely!"

I was invited to a very unusual event recently. It was a meeting about “storytelling.” It was hosted by Peter Guber. Peter is an Academy Award-winning producer of movies, including Rain Man, The Color Purple and Batman. He is the past CEO of Sony Corp. and currently chairman and CEO of Mandalay Entertainment.

Peter is clearly passionate about the power of “story” and considers it the “secret sauce” that has enabled him to achieve his success. Consequently, he decided to create an opportunity for a diverse group of experts to come together to exchange ideas–be inspired, enlightened and enriched–but, most important, to share stories!Story Telling Summit

Peter invited about 16 people (including “yours truly”) along with individuals such as Warren Bennis–one of the world’s foremost experts on leadership; Keith Ferrazzi–author of “Never Eat Alone“; and Mark Victor Hansen–co-author of the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, as well as many other “storytellers” from various businesses, backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Effective storytelling is an important part of one’s emotional intelligence. I’ve always believed in using stories to make a point but never really gave a lot of thought to some of the “hows” and “whys” of their effectiveness. There were a number of “take-aways” for me from this meeting that I would like to share with you.

Storytelling is about tapping into a passion about some topic. It is about taking the listener to a place that is visceral, visual, concrete, emotional and possibly unexpected. One of the participants, Dr. Mark Goulston, said that “a story is a portable storage unit for one’s dreams, fears, hopes, humor and sorrows that people visit–or visits people–from time to time for them to stay in contact with their humanity.” [The group really liked this definition, and so did I.]

Mark Victor Hansen said that when the authors were working on the Chicken Soup series, they were looking for stories that gave or gave people:

  • God bumps or goose bumps
  • Happy tears
  • A change in perception
  • Weakness in the knees
  • Change in your life

One of the best comments of the day came from Peter, who said, “what if” is more powerful than “how to” in a story. Very true, indeed. Getting people to think of the possible rather than simply look at the present can truly help make a great story.

After spending an entire day talking about what it takes to make a good story, I verified the fact that it is very difficult to describe to someone “how” to tell a good story. However, you sure know one when you hear it!

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