Social Capital Archives - Page 7 of 7 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Small Actions Yield Big Results

I was recently speaking to a friend of mine who is a partner in an international consulting and training company. We discovered that we had a mutual acquaintance who is a bestselling author and fairly well-known speaker. In our discussion, we found out that he had contacted each of us individually to see if there were any possibilities for some type of strategic alliance with our companies.

We were both open to that possibility but couldn’t see any immediate and dramatic way our companies could link up with his and do any specific projects at that time. We were both a bit amused to then discover that we were summarily “dropped” from his radar (no response to e-mails or other attempts to connect) after that.

We got the sense that he was looking for the one big alliance that would help his company soar to the next level. That realization started a conversation about the difference in the relationship between the two of us.

Ironically, we had had the same type of phone call with each other just 18 months earlier and came to the same conclusion. There was nothing on a grand scale we could do together at that moment. The difference, however, was the rest of the story.

We agreed to stay in touch. And then we did. We connected several times over the year and met in person on several occasions. During that time, we found some simple ways to help each other and gradually enhanced the relationship. This was in sharp contrast to the third party we had talked to individually. When this person didn’t see any big payoff, we became persona non grata to him. On the other hand, the two of us found ways to help each other gradually and, even to this day, continue to build on our relationship.

We came to the conclusion that most people who are successful at networking and creating strong strategic alliances view the process as a series of small actions taken with many people to create a long-term positive growth for your company. The process is more of a marathon than a sprint. Throughout the race, you form alliances and help each other over the long haul.

Have you had a similar experience? How has this played out in your business?

Business Networking Trends (Part 3): Small Companies vs. Large

Here is the final installment of my thoughts about trends in 2008 for business networking.

Small companies will continue to have the edge over big companies relating to business networking.

For the most part, big companies are clueless about building sales through the networking process. They continue to teach salespeople traditional methodologies while relying heavily on advertising to create buzz. Mind you, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these strategies. The problem is–big companies don’t effectively incorporate referral marketing into the process.

When it comes to developing social capital and the networking process, small business is king. Big business is slow to move out of the mindset of splashy ad campaigns, big dollars spent on traditional marketing and the “same old, same old.”

If big business does ever get it, however, it is likely to run over the little guys. Big business will learn how to develop social capital and will teach its people how to do true relationship marketing. Most big business is just a notch or two above the universities in the “you can’t tell me anything new” department. For now, there are only a few forward-thinking big companies that consistently apply these concepts (and I mean very few–I’m working with one large insurance company that may be an exception). For the rest, it is a trend to watch for in the distant, distant future.

The trends I’ve talked about in my last three blogs are not just an American phenomenon but an international one. The introduction of “International Networking Week” is a prime example of how this approach to doing business is growing worldwide.

 

Small business development through the process of building social capital will continue to grow in the global market we are currently experiencing. No one has a crystal ball, but based on what I’m seeing and what I’ve seen in the past, I believe these are some of the key things to look for relating to networking and referral marketing over the next few years.

Business Networking Trends (Part 2): Networking Education

Continuing with my discussion on “Business Networking Trends,” here are my observations about networking and social capital education:

Don’t hold your breath for the colleges and universities of the world to begin teaching networking and social capital. At this point, only two colleges in the world offer regular, core-curriculum college courses on networking and social capital. One is a course at Davis College in Ohio taught by Debby Peters, and the other is a class at the University of Michigan taught by Wayne Baker. That’s it–two colleges!

The college and university systems are behemoths of bureaucracy that are so far behind the curve of small business development that I’m beginning to despair that they will ever catch on. Most professors have never had a real job in the business world and are completely out of touch with what is happening in real life, especially in small business.

I predict that the current trend in networking and social capital education will emerge in the form of private professional training organizations, in much the same way that private industry has controlled the educational market on “sales techniques” (another area in which colleges fail miserably). Companies such as the Referral Institute, which are offering training series specific to the techniques and systems of networking, social capital and referral marketing, are starting to pop up with a very refined and polished slate of seminars and training for business owners who want to learn how to harness the power of word-of-mouth marketing.

Next on “Business Networking Trends:” Large Companies vs. Small.

 

Business Networking Trends (Part 1): Online Vs. Face-to-Face

Several emerging issues and trends surrounding the process of networking are being created out of the need to find an effective way to develop business for entrepreneurs and salespeople in this new century. Over the next few blogs, I will address three of the most prominent trends that I believe will become more important in the coming years. Here is the first one:


Online and face-to-face networking will both continue to flourish.

I’m a proponent of online networks such as Ecademy.com and others. I think they will continue to grow successfully and help many of their members. However, they are not the final answer to business marketing or to networking. They are another great tool for people to connect with others (especially outside their local geographic area).

On my Referrals For Life blog, someone recently said: “I don’t know that it is true anymore that referrals are about relationships.â€? He went on to say, essentially, that technology is changing the rules and that just participating in a website will be good enough. Well, in one word, I’d have to say, “wrong.”

Referrals are and will be, for the foreseeable future, all about relationships. Whether they are relationships built online or face to face, they will still involve relationships. People refer people they know and trust. They will not regularly refer someone just because he or she is listed on a website. That’s called advertising, not networking.

 

Online networking works, but relationships must still be part of the process. Using the internet to exchange ideas, share knowledge and increase your visibility will be imperative in the coming years. Virtual networking is catching on in many circles. Some people involved in face-to-face networking feel threatened, as if online networking were going to replace their tried-and-true system.


Those who foretell the demise of face-to-face networking fail to note one important thing: the facts. Face-to-face networking groups continue to expand. The growth rate of my own referral networking organization, BNI, bears this out. Since the internet first became popular in the mid 1990s, BNI has experienced more than a 1,000 percent growth rate. That is not a typo.

Technology flattens the communication hierarchy and provides opportunities to improve your networking efforts–not replace them. I believe people who understand this will begin to use technology effectively–without replacing relationships–to take their marketing to new levels in the years to come.

‘The Time is Now’ Movie

I’m honored to say that I am part of a new film that is currently in production: The Time is Now.

I talk about how collaboration through networking is a powerful way of doing business.

The film features personal conversations with Bill Gates, Jack Welch, Tony Robbins, John Gray and Jack Canfield, plus many others.

The Leaders in the New Civilization–LINC–charitable organization is producing this amazing breakthrough film, which will be both educational and entertaining. It presents a very positive, futuristic view of what is possible as we utilize our most advanced resources, intelligence, awareness and scientific breakthroughs to make the highest-integrity choices for future generations.

Throughout these extraordinary dialogues, these leaders provide some of their greatest ideas, their deepest life philosophy and wisdom, their personal secrets to success and their most effective daily practices, along with powerful solutions for global issues that can shift our individual lives, our families, businesses, communities and the world.

If you would like to see an advance trailer for the film, go to: www.thetimeisnow.tv . I am in the section toward the end on “Collaboration.”

Enjoy!

Finding Good Referral Sources Is Like Kissing Frogs!

I was speaking with Sarah Owen, the master franchisee of The Referral Institute in the UK, and she told me that she often comes across people who are good at giving to others but don’t always get an equitable return from their relationships. Many people want to know how to discern whether a potential referral source is a good match, and what they can do to increase the likelihood that their time and efforts are being invested in relationships that will harvest a positive return.

Sarah shared a great metaphor that she uses in relation to referral sources that don’t pan out by saying, “When we are looking for a good relationship in life, we sometimes need to kiss some frogs to find our prince. People are searching for a way to avoid those slimy, slippery, drawn-out kisses, which can be prolonged over months–sometimes years–only to discover that the frog never turns into a handsome prince.” So how do people avoid those empty, disappointing referral relationships that turn out to be slimy frogs instead of princes? I think some of the questions below that Sarah and I discussed can definitely help qualify a potential referral source/alliance relationship sooner rather than later.

  • What are your goals?
  • What are your achievements?
  • What are your interests?
  • What do your networks look like?
  • What are your key skills?
  • Do you have time to invest in another relationship?
  • From what you know so far, do you like what I do?

By asking at the outset whether the individual has the resources, motivation and time to invest, and by then providing him or her permission to opt out, the only question left is whether the match is sufficient enough to ensure the relationship can be reciprocal in time. As our conversation came to a close, Sarah said that her clients are finding better results using these simple steps. Then, she smiled and happily reported that they are also kissing fewer frogs!

I love this metaphor. Thanks for sharing it with me, Sarah.

Out of Line – Online!

I belong to several online networks. Recently, I got an email from one of the members whom I don’t know, have never talked to, and was never directly connected to in any way.

He sent out an email to many people in the online community about a new person who just joined. In it, he said: “Letting her join was the biggest mistake you will ever make. . . she is a disaster, is totally unreliable, is a total liar. You. . . have been. . . conned,” he concluded.

Wow, I was amazed that this “stranger” would send me this email. But the impersonal nature of online communications sometimes leads people to behave in ways they could never get away with in person! There are social mores that are easily bypassed when you are not looking someone in the eyes.

Whether you are dealing with face-to-face networking or online networking, the basics of etiquette and emotional intelligence should still apply. You have to be aware that when you are communicating on the internet you are still dealing with real people. Even though you may feel very powerful because you can say things and send it out to many people it doesn’t mean that you should or that it’s appropriate to do so!

The ignoramus who sent me this email would never have the stones to talk about this person “personally” to all the people (including strangers) that he emailed, but he could do it behind the relative safety of the internet. Unfortunately, this is one of the weaknesses of the powerful medium of the internet. If this individual behaved like this at an “in-person” meeting, he’d likely be thrown out! But online, he thinks he can get away with it. People like this become so disconnected with reality that they get this false sense of power (not to mention self-importance).

So, what do you say to someone who sends you such a totally inappropriate email? I told him that “I didn’t know the woman he was talking about but that his email told me a lot about him and that I did NOT want to get this type of slanderous communication again.” He surprised me with his response. He said that he didn’t know who I was and “he didn’t want to talk to nobodies” like me! At first I thought, “nobody, I don’t think I’m a nobody.” Then I thought, hmmm, maybe it’s a good thing to be a “nobody” to a nutcase!

Have you had experiences like this? If so, tell me about it. What did you say when you got an email like this? I want to hear your feedback.

New Orleans – After Katrina

I spent the last few days in New Orleans for a BNI event hosting the 210 winners (and guests) of the 2007 USA Member Extravaganza for the organization.

There are two things I want to share about my visit to the area.  The first, is my impression of the business people.  It’s great to see business “start” to come back in the city.  One of the things that struck me was how so many businesses THANKED us for visiting the city and helping in some small way to bring back the economy.  It was truly dramatic.  Every time my wife and I purchased something, the stores went out of their way to thank us for our business.  When we told them were with a group of 210 people, they were extremely thankful.  It felt great to help the city and I invite you to visit New Orleans.  They definitely need more business and they appreciate it more than any group of people I’ve seen in recent years.

The second thing I want to share relates to the many stories I heard about courage and giving.  Prior to the event I mentioned above, I had an opportunity to speak to about 150 BNI and Jefferson Chamber of Commerce members in the greater New Orleans area .  I heard many stories about the hurricane and its aftermath.  One that really jumped out at me was a BNI member by the name of Dr. Morris Panter.

Dr. Panter (seen here with me at the event) told me that immediately after the hurricane, he had no practice!  His office was damaged with holes in the roof but it was still partly usable.  So, he spray painted a plywood board that said “Relief Workers Adjusted for Free.”  He told me that over the next several months he adjusted 900 relief workers helping to clean up from the disaster!

I think Dr. Panter’s story is another one of the many examples of courage and giving that we have seen come out of this horrific event.  In the face of the temporary loss of all his business, he took the time to “give” to the people helping his city.

It was an honor to speak to people throughout the greater New Orleans area and I wish them continued success in building the city’s economy back up.

How to Make the Butterfly Effect of Networking Work

I was thinking about the blog I wrote last month about the Butterfly Effect of Networking? and it occurred to me that an important part of the reason I was able to make such effective and rewarding networking connections was the way that I thought about, and therefore went about networking. Here’s what I mean by that . . .

While it’s important to know the right things to do while networking, it’s equally important to start thinking the right way to make your networking efforts as successful and dynamic as they can be. This involves altering your mind-set. Here is an up-close look at some elements you’ll want to include in your mind-set to ensure networking success:

 1. The law of reciprocity or givers gain? approach.

Don’t approach networking thinking I did this for you, now what are you going to do for me? Instead, remember the old adage Give and you shall receive? The law of reciprocity takes the focus off of what you stand to gain from the networking relationship, and in doing so, creates bonds based on trust and friendship. Put it to the test. You’ll be amazed by the outcome.

 2. Diversity in networking.

Look for groups that don’t target people just like you. In this way, you’ll broaden the net you seek to cast for referrals.

 3. Farming mentality.

It’s a long, drawn-out process to go from seeding a field to harvesting the crops and there’s no quick return. But, when you spend time and take care in building relationships, your networking will yield extraordinary results.

Approaching networking with a mentality that focuses on the process of cultivating referrals will create the results you desire. Make an effort to spend more time strengthening your friendships with those whom you wish to have as part of your networking circle and you will certainly make more and better connections.

"Act as if. . ." Party

I’m spending a couple days at Jack Canfield’s home in Southern California participating in a strategic planning session for an organization I belong to called the Transformational Leadership Council (an organization he founded about 4 years ago for trainers and thought leaders).

Kathryn Lodal, one of my Executive Directors for BNI requested that I ask Jack a great question that I thought would make a good topic to discuss in my blog today. In Jack’s latest book, “Success Principle’s,” one of the things he recommends that people do is to create an event where they “act as if” they were the person they aspired to be 5 years from now! Kathryn wanted to know how to best do that. So, I asked Jack for some suggestions and I loved his response.

Jack suggests that people put on an “Act as if” event where everyone comes dressed as the person they want to be five years from now. He said the key to making this work is using props and video recording the event. Make sure that you create a vision for where you would like to be and to record that vision so that you can more effectively attract that in to your life. Dress like the person you want to be, talk like the person you want to be, create a story around the person that you want to be, and make sure to record that vision during the event.

I’d love to hear from anyone that has done this and how the event worked out. I know that Kathryn and her BNI members in San Diego will be doing it a few months from now and and I can’t wait to see the video!

The “Butterfly Effect of Networking”

I am writing to you today from Necker Island in the Caribbean where I am meeting with about 20 business leaders including Sir Richard Branson the founder of Virgin Atlantic Airways and owner of the Island.

My journey to this island is a dramatic example of the “Butterfly Effect of Networking.”  The “Butterfly Effect” is the theory that a small action in one place may have a ripple effect that creates a dramatic action in another place. It is like a pebble in a pond creating ripples on the surface.

For networking, it is about how a seemingly minor connection or conversation with one person may, after many ripples across the network, end in a dramatic connection later in the process.  This week, I am living that concept to its fullest.

It started several years ago when I received a phone call from a woman I did not know but who has since become a good friend.  Her name is Kim.  Kim asked me if I would be willing to help with the creation of an online networking and social capital community.  It took some work to put this together, but at the time I had no idea what type of ripple effect this request would have on my life.  I did it because it fit the values and direction that I wanted to take my company in.  With that, the ripple began.

This relationship turned into a strategic alliance, which turned into a speaking engagement, which allowed me to meet Jack Canfield (co-author of Chicken Soup for the Soul), which led to an invitation from Jack to participate in an international organization called the Transformational Leadership Council, which led to meeting a woman by the name of Nancy, owner of an ethics training company. Getting to know Nancy led to an invitation for my wife and I to spend five days on the breathtakingly beautiful Necker Island where we have been meeting with financial wizards of business, movie producers,and successful business leaders such as Sir Richard Branson (OK, I won’t hold back this week is a networker’s dream).

The ripples that take place in the networking process may not be clear when the pebble drops into the water and the ripple begins. What is certain is that there is a ripple. If you follow that ripple and make the most of the contacts that you meet during each stage of that journey, it can lead you to making connections and creating relationships that may very well surprise you when you look back to where the journey first started.

Look for more later about the journey of this particular ripple.

Networking a Soft Science? Only to College Professors!

Recently, I had lunch with the president of a Southern California University along with his dean for the School of Business. We spoke about many things but, specifically, he wondered what I thought the school could be doing better to teach students graduating from his university. My answer was easy–“start teaching courses on networking, social capital and/or emotional intelligence.”

He asked me why.  I told him that if you ask the average business person or entrepreneur what one of the most important ways to build his or her business is, he or she will almost always tell you “networking or word of mouth.” So if networking is so important, why aren’t we teaching it?  I told him that social capital (which is the study of resources developed through personal and professional relationships) and emotional intelligence (sometimes called EQ for emotional quotient) are key factors to the successful interaction of people with one another.  I suggested that often people may get hired because of their IQ, but they get promoted because of their EQ.  All of these subjects have a strong influence on someone’s success and there is a wealth of research being developed in each of those areas.

The president looked to his dean for the School of Business and asked him what he thought. The dean looked me squarely in the eyes and said, “My professors would never teach that material here.” I asked him why and he said, “It’s all soft science.”

Soft science! Teaching people how to interact with people in an effective way is “soft science!” I should not have been surprised. I’ve run into this many times before with college professors in the past. I was just amazed that this progressive university would take such a position.

We give people bachelor’s degrees in marketing, business and even entrepreneurship, but we teach them hardly anything about the one subject that virtually every entrepreneur says is critically important to his or her business–networking and social capital. Why don’t business schools teach this subject? I think it’s because most business schools are made up of professors who’ve NEVER owned a business in their life. Almost everything they’ve learned about running a business they’ve learned from books and consulting. Well, I’ve read a fair number of books, I was a consultant for many years, and I’ve run my own business for more than two decades. I can tell you firsthand that if you haven’t actually owned a business, you have a handicap in teaching a course involving entrepreneurship.

Can you imagine a law course taught by someone who’s not an attorney, or an accounting course taught by anyone without direct accounting experience? Yet we put business professors in colleges to teach courses related to marketing and entrepreneurship with little or no firsthand experience in the field. Is it any wonder, then, that a subject that is so critically important to business people would be so completely missed by business schools? Of course not. Networking and social capital courses aren’t taught in business schools because most business professors aren’t practitioners. They don’t really understand the importance of this subject for entrepreneurs. Granted, there was little written in the field of networking and social capital 20 years ago (do a literature search. You’ll see), but that is not the case today. There are hundreds of articles and many books on various facets of the area. A thorough bibliography of many of these articles and books can be found in the back of The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret (Revised Edition).

Networking is a field that is finally being codified and structured. Business schools around the world need to wake up and start teaching this curriculum. Schools like any large institution are bureaucracies, so it’s unlikely to happen quickly; however, for those schools with vision, foresight and the ability to act swiftly (sort of the way business professors claim that businesses should act), they will be positioning themselves as leaders in education by truly understanding and responding to the needs of today’s businesses. These schools will be on the cutting edge of business education to better serve their students while positioning themselves as a leading institution for entrepreneurs.

Word-of-mouth marketing works. Social capital is critically important. And networking is the mechanism to develop both. As more universities and colleges open their doors to professors who want to include this strategy with their marketing instruction, we’re going to see a major shift in the business landscape. We’ll see emerging entrepreneurs who’ll be equipped with another strategy for success in business. We will see networking utilized at its fullest capacity, and we will see business schools actually teaching a subject that the business practitioner says is important.

If that doesn’t happen, the private sector will once again step up to the plate and fill the gap for the lack of practical education provided by universities. Just look at sales training. Colleges totally miss the boat on this subject which has created an “after degree” market in sales training done by people like Brian Tracy (briantracyuniversity.com). I predict the same will happen for networking and referral marketing with organizations like the Referral Institute (referralinstitute.com).

By the way, at the end of the conversation during that lunch, I asked the dean about courses on leadership.  I said, “How are courses on leadership any less of a soft science than networking?”  He didn’t have an answer. What a surprise.
I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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