Strategy Archives - Page 8 of 10 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

4 Steps to Building an Effective Networking Program

It’s often been said that “starting is the hardest part” of a project. Well, building your business through networking and word-of-mouth marketing is no exception.

Here are four things you can do to get your networking program off to a strong start:

1. Don’t be a cave dweller: Get out and meet people!

2. Know how to ask for the referral. Learn and develop specific techniques that will help you hone your ability to ask for the referrals you want.

3. Consciously select at least three business or networking groups to join in the next three months (chambers of commerce, community service groups, trade associations, strong contact networks such as BNI, etc.).

4. Develop a creative incentive to encourage people to send referrals your way (If you’re a music store owner, for example, you might send music tickets to people who refer business to you).

The bottom line is this: Get out there and make diverse contacts, be specific in your approach, and help others in creative and enthusiastic ways so they’ll want to refer you business!

 What are some specific ways that you approach networking? . . . What tactics do you have for making diverse contacts and helping others creatively and enthusiastically?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and I’ll send a free, surprise gift to the first ten people who respond to these questions in the comment forum below.  In order to ensure that you receive your gift, be sure to e-mail larry@bni.com with the subject line “blog comment” and your full contact information [mailing address and phone number (your phone number is required by the shipping company in case they need to contact you in order to deliver your package)]–I assure you that your contact information will not be shared or used for any other purpose than to ship your gift to you. Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

 

Networking Strategy Advice from NetworkingNow.com

Today I’d like to share a video that I recorded a while back that is timelessly useful when it comes to creating a solid and effective networking strategy.  In the video, I outline the best way to find like-minded business professionals to network with and I explain the four different streams—or types of networks—which you should be sure to strategically build into your overall network.

This video comes from the educational video archive housed within NetworkingNow.com and it is just one example of the vast array of educational content offered on the NetworkingNow.com website—there are literally hundreds of business and networking downloads available in the site’s online library and you can access all of them for FREE for six months by entering the free subscription code given below.

The free subscription is a gift from BusinessNetworking.com and all you have to do is enter the code (“freesixmonths”) on NetworkingNow.com to gain access to the entire library of content!  Please note that you will be required to enter a credit card number on the site but you will not be billed for the free six month membership.  You will need to end your subscription if you don’t wish to be billed for the second six months.

Please leave a comment regarding your thoughts on this video and also letting me know what type of downloadable content you most like to access on sites like NetworkingNow.com:

  • Video?
  • Audio?
  • PDF Articles?
  • Digital Books?
  • Something Else? If so, what specifically?

4 Questions to Start the New Year off Right

With 2014 having just kicked off, it’s a whole new year and a perfect time to re-examine why you’re doing what you’re doing. You may think you know why you’re in business, but perhaps it’s been years since you gave it serious thought.

 

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is my business mission? — Beyond simply making a living, what are my long-range professional goals? Do I wish to become the standard by which my competitors are judged? Is it my dream to help make the world a better place?
  • Where is my organization going? — Am I achieving my mission? Am I making plans to accomplish it? How can I change policies, procedures or personnel to improve my chances of achieving my mission?
  • What environment is my organization operating in? — What are the social, economic and technological trends that affect the way I do business and my progress toward my goals?
  • What are my core competencies? — What do I like to do? What is it that I do better than my competitors? Is my business mission compatible with my values and aptitudes?

I’ve seen too many business professionals and companies make the mistake of trying to be all things to all people. Starting out with the fundamentally sound goal of finding a niche that will make them successful, they go astray by changing direction every time a customer or associate suggests a new product or service. The mission gets lost in a frantic scramble for business before the original idea ever gets a chance to pay off.

So, even if you think you know your mission, it will serve you well to pause periodically, analyze your business and, if necessary, refocus on your mission and philosophy.

If you found the questions above helpful in identifying where you and your business currently stand and where you’d like to go within the next year, I’d love to hear what you discovered.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Are You on the Right Track with Career Networking?

Despite what a lot of people might think, there are actually many more similarities between business networking and career networking.  In this short video, I point out some of the key similarities between these two types of networking and explain the ideal time for people to start thinking about their career needs and making efforts toward career networking.

Watch the video now to learn the five magic words that can completely change the dynamic of potentially challenging conversations and open the way to form important, lasting connections and beneficial relationships in your networking efforts and throughout your career.

Also, if you have a story about how you have used basic networking skills within your job, before you were looking for a job, or as you were starting a job, I’d really love to hear from you.  Please share your story in the comment forum below and be sure to submit your story at www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.comWhen you submit your story via SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com, it will be considered for inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield and Gautam Ganglani.  Thanks in advance for your participation–I’m looking forward to reading your stories!

Are You Prepared?–A Networking Checklist

Have you ever attended a networking event where it was clear that some of the other networkers you interacted with were obviously not at all prepared?  Worse yet, have you found yourself unprepared in networking situations and been unsure about what you should be doing to set yourself up to make solid networking connections?  As networkers, preparation is extremely important  because, the fact is, if you haven’t done the simple, basic preparations to network properly then you’re not only wasting your time, you’re wasting the time of the other networkers you talk to.

 

Preparing to network is not difficult; you simply need to follow these basic networking commandments:

* Have the proper networking tools with you (name badge, business cards, contact info of your referral partners).

* Set a reachable goal for the number of people you’ll meet, and then get all their cards.

* Act like a host, not a guest.

* Listen and ask questions.

* Don’t try to close a deal.

* Give referrals whenever possible.

* Spend roughly 10 minutes or so with each person you meet.

* Exchange cards and write notes on the backs of cards you get so that you are sure to remember people clearly.

* Follow up!

No matter how long you’ve been networking, it’s always good to remind yourself to consistently follow these steps. If you do, you’re sure to get the best possible results from your networking efforts. And other networkers, like myself, will thank you for making good use of their time.

Do you have a tactic for preparing to network which isn’t listed above and has been particularly effective for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  I’d love to hear you ideas–thanks!

 

For Long Term Networking Payoff, Take Small Steps . . .

A few years back, I was 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. Both of us were also 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? If so, how has this played out in your business?  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Does Your Follow up Leave Something to Be Desired?

It’s no secret that a huge part of a networker’s success is tied to their effectiveness at one thing—following up with the contacts they make.  Networking without following up is—to put it bluntly—nothing more than a waste of time.

So, it makes sense that one of the questions I’m most often asked is about follow up.  No matter what part of the world I’m in, one of the first things people tend to ask is what I believe is the best way to follow up with new networking connections.

In this video, I share my answer to this question and if follow up is something you struggle with, I think you’ll find what I have to say quite reassuring because the most effective way of following up is much simpler than you might think.

Do you have a method of following up which has been particularly effective for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  Also, if you have an interesting story about how you followed up with someone and left a lasting impression on them or remarkable things happened as a result of your follow up, please share your story via www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.comWhen you submit your story, it will be considered for inclusion in an upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Education Plus Preparation Equals Optimum Results

During a conversation some years ago with Leslie Fiorenzo, a colleague of mine in the networking organization I founded, she made an interesting point of comparison between appreciating opera and learning to use word-of-mouth marketing in your business.  She said, “The best way to experience opera is to see it on the stage, and the best way to use word of mouth is to put a referral marketing plan in place. The novice, in either case, may not know where to begin.”

 

We started talking about a system to generate business by referral and, just like opera, if you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself–preparation is key to success. Central to the referral-marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do–what product or service you provide or make; how, and under what conditions, you provide it; how well you do it; and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors. You absolutely must communicate this information to your sources. And to communicate effectively, you must know the same things. Before business owners map out their referral marketing campaign, they must stop and get a clear picture of where their business currently stands.

Leslie commented that when people begin to learn and study opera, they begin with basic works by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini before moving on to more complex works by composers such as Richard Wagner. In the same way, when marketing your business by word of mouth, there is a place to start before you meet with the people in your network. You begin by preparing answers to some basic questions about yourself and your business like:

1. Why are you in business?
2. What do you sell?
3. Who are your customers and
4. How well do you compete?

The ability to communicate this information to your sources and prospects will be invaluable as you begin to build your network and formulate your plan to gain more and more business the most effective way–through referrals.

Once you master some basic tools, you can move on to a deeper understanding of the process. For example, there are three laws of Notable Networking:

1. Have a positive and supportive attitude, and provide a positive and supportive environment for other business people.
2) Learn how to use networking tools efficiently, including business cards and an informative name badge, and have a business-card case to hold others’ cards.
3) Networking is an acquired skill that requires listening to CDs, reading books/articles, picking the brains of great networkers and practicing what you’ve learned.

One fantastic place to get information about all things related to networking is NetworkingNow.com.  I highly recommend that you become familiar with the basic tools of word-of-mouth marketing and begin to implement them in your business so that you can begin to watch it grow. Because, just like appreciating opera, if you don’t begin with the basics, you won’t experience the optimum result.

If there is an educational resource which you’ve found to be specifically valuable and effective in learning to network, I urge you to share it in the comment forum below so others might utilize it and benefit from it as well.  After you leave a comment, be sure to send a quick e-mail to larry@bni.com with the subject line “Blog Comment” so he can reply to you with a coupon code for a free six-month subscription to NetworkingNow.com.

 

Building Social Capital Is the Groundwork for Future Payoff

In a video blog I posted recently, I talk about the Law of Reciprocity which is one aspect of social capital theory.  In today’s video, I specifically address what social capital is and why investing in social capital is one of the best investments you can make in order to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network.

My friend Alex, whom I mention in this video, is a master at building social capital and there isn’t a person who knows him who wouldn’t help him in an instant in any way they could if  he asked them to.  Alex has an expansive support system comprised of a diverse array of people who are all willing and eager to help him succeed and it’s all because he dedicates himself 100% to investing in the relationships he builds with those around him.  If you could use a support system like Alex has (which I already know you could because we ALL could), then start creating ways to build social capital with those in your network at every opportunity.

Perhaps you’ve already got a story about social capital that’s similar to the one I share in this video about Alex, or a story about how you’ve built great social capital with someone who is now just itching to help you in any way they can.  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Could You be Making Things Harder Than They Really Are?

In business, there are endless opportunities to learn from the successes and mistakes of others who have ventured into the entrepreneurial waters before us.  So, why is  it that we often ignore the lessons we can learn from others’ mistakes and doom ourselves to making the same bad decisions?  People in business and sales do this all the time.  For example, there are tried-and-true sales techniques that are so simplistic it doesn’t seem as though they can really be effective so we write them off and try to reinvent the wheel.

Many times, we try to re-evaluate, improve upon, and complicate these simple yet proven techniques and all we’re really succeeding in doing is making things harder than they really are!  One of the biggest mistakes that people in business (and especially in sales) make is not listening to the people who have experience.  For some reason, they assume that they have to know better . . . and the truth is, they don’t.  There is nothing like experience–it beats education every day of the week.  The only thing better is a combination of education and experience . . . or a willingness to learn from other people’s experience.

There are many basic sales techniques that any good salesperson knows to be effective.  They don’t look for something more complicated or involved because they know from their own experience, as well as from the experience of others, what works in sales and what doesn’t work in sales.  If you’ve read my book, Masters of Sales, you may have read things that seemed to simple to be effective or you may have seen ideas that you’ve heard before.  The fact is, instead of being dismissed, these tactics and ideas should be embraced.  True Masters of Sales learn from other people’s success and remember that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.

Is there a simple lesson you learned from another business owner/entrepreneur which has helped you achieve success in your business?  I’d love to get a conversation going about this in order to share simple tactics for success and important lessons learned so we can all lessen our risk of making things harder than they really are.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

Successful Networkers Build Deep Relationships–Know Your Contacts

If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, the fact is it will simply never be very powerful.  In this video, I talk about why investing the time and effort into really getting to know your contacts and building deep, trusted relationships with them is key to networking success.

Do you know your contacts’ hobbies? Do you know their family members’ names? If your answer is no, this means you’re not delving beneath the surface with your contacts and you’re not building fruitful relationships–you need to get to know your contacts much better.

Watch this short video now to learn how to build deeper, mutually beneficial relationships by using the GAINS Exchange, get relationship-building success strategies used by international sales expert & keynote speaker Harvey Mackay, and more.

Do you have a method or a tactic for getting to know your contacts better which has really seemed to work for you?  If so, please share it in the comment forum below.  I’m always interested in the tactics that networkers around the world have successfully used to achieve networking success and I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Selling Goals vs. Life Goals (Pssst…They’re Related!)

I can almost hear the groans now . . . “Another discussion about goal setting?–How boring!”  Well, boredom comes from repetition, and without repetition, masterful achievement is not possible.  Reading more, practicing more, and understanding more about goals bring this part of selling into a normal daily routine where it motivates and guides those who are masters in the field of sales.

Our lives are directed and pulled by conscious and subconscious desires, which when aggregated become our future vision.  This vision (whether to lose 25 pounds and be athletic or to consistently earn $10,000 commissions and be wealthy) is directed by our destination goals, but the more finite process goals help us get there.  Treat each daily detail as an important process goal to achieve, and indeed these small ones will accumulate so that ultimately our larger vision becomes our reality.  It is easy to derail our dreams by self doubt, other people, and external events, so the only way to keep the vision alive is to transform it into tangible, goal-directed behavior.

Most goal-implementation plans require getting other people enrolled in our personal program.  This is where person-to-person selling comes into the picture.  In this instance, selling means convincing other people to give us something they have in return for something we possess.  In a traditional view of selling, the buyer exchanges her money for our product.  But in the real world, every person sells continually–whether ourselves on a first date, our beliefs, or our knowledge.  If we sell successfully, we might achieve a goal of having an enjoyable evening date, public  recognition, or personal satisfaction as a return from our effort.

Setting the right environment to complete a sales transaction might include bringing flowers on the first date or artfully crafting a storefront window to allow those walking by a glimpse of the buying opportunities to be found inside the shop.  The sales trainer might say, “Your goal is to create an environment (a stage) that causes your customer to feel like a VIP taking delivery on his Rolls Royce.”  The sales process is a very social activity, one that creatively mixes the buyer’s goal of owning a solution with the seller’s complex goal of meeting company targets, earning an income, and personally helping the customer.  Learning this craft of goal satisfaction is never ending and forever challenges the master seller.

While I was working on the book Masters of Sales, a woman named Joan Fletcher wrote me and told me a noteworthy story about a very successful young salesman.  In spite of his sales awards, his corner office, and charismatic charm, he still felt he was just scraping the surface of success . . .

Even though dutifully creating written goals, his level of self satisfaction was low; until he realized that the big picture was not just about how much money he earned, or the big house, or the number of sales he hoped to close.  The big picture was his vision about what he truly wanted to achieve in all combined areas of his life.  Once he discovered this realization, his renewed selling accomplishments became directly tied to setting aside money for his daughter’s education fund, to have time to help coach his son’s soccer league, and to work in his yard.  Even with more personal goals than before, his sales results climbed higher.

The thing to always remember is this: Work goals, selling goals, and life goals are all intertwined and each one will always influence the others.  Now the question becomes: what do YOU truly want to achieve in all combined areas of your life and what are some ways you might make a conscious effort to streamline your work, selling, and life goals in order more effectively work toward your future vision?  I’d love to hear your thoughts so please share any/all feedback you may have in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

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