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The ABCs of Networking–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

(Part 6 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

TR Garland (featured in this video with me) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute.

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Six months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 6 of the series.  in short video format.  Enjoy!

Please let us know what you think of the video by leaving your thoughts in the comments section. Thanks!


Got Accountability?

While I was in Australia last month, I had the opportunity to speak with one of Australia’s most successful networkers, Brent Edwards, about the role accountability plays in networking.  Basically if you’re not maintaining accountability when networking, your efforts all boil down to one thing–a waste of time.

In this short video, Brent offers three simple keys to ensuring you maintain accountability in your networking efforts which will, in turn, build a solid foundation for networking success and the potential for limitless business growth through referrals.

 

Audit Your Activities — “Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Five months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 5 of the series.  Enjoy.

 

AUDIT YOUR ACTIVITIES
(Part 5 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 , and Part 4 of this series, we introduced and re-introduced the concept and steps of The VCP Process® to Networking for our readers through brief anecdotes, relevant comparisons, and sometimes even humorous situations.

Today, we’d like to share with you one laser-focused Power Habit that you can use on a weekly basis to increase the number of referrals you receive. And, that Power Habit is based upon the following underlying Success PrincipleIt’s not always about the ACT of the ACTIVITIES that one should focus on. It’s the ANALYSIS of those ACTIVITIES that produces your greatest results.

A close friend of ours, Jim Cathcart (www.Cathcart.com), is listed in the professional Speaker Hall of Fame and is a very well-known author and speaker on the topic of Sales.  In fact, for 3 years in a row Jim has been selected as one of the Top 5 Speakers on Sales & Service.  So, I guess what we’re saying is that we believe “Jim knows his stuff!”  And in a recent conversation, he said: “Things that are measured tend to improve.”

It got us thinking that nothing could be truer, especially in the process of getting referrals.  Many networkers actually become Referral Institute clients because they want the trainers to hold them accountable for their weekly actions so that they get improved results.  We actually steer them towards an amazing online referral tracking tool called Relate2Profit (www.Relate2Profit.com) to help them hold themselves accountable.  But for today’s conversation, let’s take baby steps.  Let’s talk about something you can do with tools you already have at your disposal…a pen and your Daily Planner.

Our focus is measuring your weekly activities and how they relate to moving people in your network through The VCP Process® all the way from Visibility through Credibility to Profitability.

Here are the recommended steps:

  • First thing every Monday morning block off 5 minutes.
  • Write down the names of 5 people who you want passing you steady referrals.
  • Next, in your Daily Planner block off a 2 minute segment of time for each of the 5 days of the week.
  • Then, during each of those separate 2 minute segments choose 1 of the 5 people who you want passing you steady referrals.
  • Finally, TAKE ACTION by doing something to help YOU move that person (who YOU chose) through The VCP Process® to networking on your behalf.

For example, if you are only at Visibility with 1 of those 5 people, what can you do in those 2 minutes to help you move to Credibility with them?  Or, if you are only at Credibility with 1 of those 5 people, what can you do in those 2 minutes to help you move to Profitability with them?

At a loss for ideas on what you can do in 2 minutes to help compel someone to pass you referrals?  Here’s a brief list of activities that you might want to consider:

  • Search the web for an article relevant to their professional (or personal) goals and email it to them.
  • Go to their Facebook timeline or LinkedIn profile and comment on one of their recent posts to show that you care about what they care about.
  • Send them an email acknowledging that you’re aware of who an ideal client is for them…and let them know you’ll continue to be on the lookout.
  • Call them up and invite them to accompany you on a meeting you already have scheduled with a prospective client of yours.

As noted above, this is a recommended series of actions that we suggest you implement on a weekly basis.  If you do, the COMPOUND EFFECT of these weekly Power Habits will deliver you massive results in the medium and long term with your business relationships.

If this seems too simplistic to you right now, please take special note of the following.  In a recent survey over a 12 week period, when asked if they REGULARLY dedicated just 2 minutes for each of the 5 days of the week to perform ANY of the above recommended actions towards staying “top of mind” with prospective Referral Sources…less than 50% of the respondents reported that they did not.

This means that people have identified key Contact Sphere Professionals who should be passing them referrals.  BUT, they go weeks and weeks without performing small actions to compel these people to pass them referrals or even to stay top of mind!

Where would you fit into this survey?

In closing, we’d like to recommend you consider that the above Power Habit that can be performed is actually only 15 minutes of your work week.  If you work a standard 40 hour week, it’s less than 1% of your time investment for that week.  We believe that there should be no excuse for not dedicating 1% of your work week to “staying top of mind” with prospective Referral Sources.  Do you agree? 

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 6 called “The ABC’s of Business Networking”.

Expose Yourself!–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Four months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 4 of the series.  Enjoy.

EXPOSE YOURSELF!
(Part 4 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 3 of this series, we encouraged Business Networkers to honor the chronological steps of the VCP Process®.  In other words, we pointed out that generating a steady stream of referrals takes an investment in time — as well as in the people in your own network.  Take action, we recommended, and become visible.  However, be cautious about “too much Visibility”.

Today, we’d like to revisit and expand upon the following concept that was introduced last month:  If you put yourself out in the marketplace as a person of value, others will want to connect with youYour role is to EXPOSE YOURSELF to your local business community in a valuable way so that people feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you.

Let’s dig deeper . . . If you’ve sought out Business Networking training and education in the past, you’ve most likely heard the following phrase: “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.  However, today, we ask the question: “WHAT…do they know you for?”

You see, we believe that there is a strategic way to go about gaining Visibility in your local community.  We believe that if you lead with positive intentions and follow up with valuable contributions, professionals will, in time, feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you (i.e. pass you qualified referrals and/or connect you with Referral Partners).  Attempting to expedite the VCP Process® is almost never a good decision.  And sometimes, it may even backfire.

You may have observed this type of behavior before where people shift into what’s considered to be ‘Visibility’-overload.  In other words, every chance they get they’re doing random “stuff” (yes, that’s the technical term) to be visible without having any sort of thought out strategy.  Do you know what a “Drive-By” is at a networking event?  It’s when someone’s strategy (of lack thereof) is to meet everyone at a mixer.  As such, they’re focused on passing out their business cards to anyone and everyone versus staying in a conversation for longer than 60 seconds.  Has this ever happened to you?  What was your perception of this person?

This and other “Random Acts of Networking” ultimately defeat the overall objective which is to build trust and credibility through cultivating relationships.  Our fear is that people might be placing a lot of time into gaining Visibility, but NOT being able to capitalize on it.  And, it is for this reason that we’d like to introduce the term HYPER-Visibility™.  It’s when people try to get everyone to know them, see them, and hear them through a variety of different means in an effort to expedite the VCP Process® to Networking.  Whereas, in actuality, it typically backfires and may even be detrimental to their reputation and perceived as overkill.

As alluded to before, try not to be plagued by HYPER-Visibility™ and ask the question:  “WHY…do people know you?”

Is it because you:

  • Have volunteered to setup and break down your visitors table at your weekly networking event?
  • Have recently been awarded the “Helping Hand Award” in your local community?
  • Have numerous satisfied clients/customers who say positive things about you?

Or, is it because you:

  • Are at every single networking event in your local community (i.e. you’re everywhere!)?
  • Are the person who adds people to your weekly newsletter without permission?
  • Are constantly conducting ‘off the wall’ introductions (called Sales Manager Minutes in BNI) in an effort to be remembered?

Please be cautious that sometimes if those (albeit memorable, but) ‘off the wall’ introductions have nothing to do with training your network, they may not serve you well.  Being over the top could actually push some people away who might otherwise be keen to learning more about you.  Please also be aware that sometimes when you’re in roles of increased Visibility, your actions are clearer and even amplified.  For example, if you volunteer to help support your local networking group – or even any association or charity – your visibility will be enhanced and you’re typically in the spotlight or under a microscope.  Be cognizant, be strategic, and be prepared.

Visibility is an intricate part to the VCP Process®.   When strategically planned out, this exposure could be your biggest ally.  When attained for no particular rhyme or reason, it could be your biggest enemy.  Hmmm . . . food for thought, isn’t it?

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider that there are actually two different interpretations to the title of this blog post “Expose Yourself!”  First, it can be interpreted as the means by which you strategically and professionally navigate the first step of the VCP Process®.  Or, it can be interpreted that sometimes when you are too visible or seeking visibility for the wrong reasons (or with the wrong approach) you actually “Expose Yourself!”  Moving forward, our recommendation is to conduct an inventory of what steps you’re taking on a weekly basis to become visible within your own local community.  Then, decipher if they are effective at doing the job of helping you move beyond Visibility to Credibility.  If not, then please consider revising or replacing

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 5 called “Audit Your Activities.”

Too Much Visibility?–“Navigating the VCP Process(R) to Networking” Series

TR Garland (pictured with me in the photo below) is a friend of mine and co-author of one of my most recent #1 best-selling books called “Building The Ultimate Network.”  He’s also considered a top trainer for the Referral Institute. 

For some time now, we’ve both observed a need to drill down on one of the most important and foundational concepts to networking – The VCP Process®.  Two months ago, we started a much-anticipated 12-part monthly series of blog posts which addresses this and contains some very timely information for networkers across the globe.  Today, we’re proud to share with you Part 3 of the series.  Enjoy.

WHEN IS TOO MUCH VISIBILITY, WELL, TOO MUCH ‘VISIBILITY’?
(Part 3 of 12 of the “Navigating The VCP Process® To Networking” Series)

In Part 1 of this series, we introduced you to the moniker – The Networking Nomad™.  In short, this moniker describes the type of networker who appears to be misinterpreting the very definition of Business Networking.  Click here to review that blog post.  In Part 2 of this series, we recommended you understand that ‘perception is reality’ when it comes to networking – and we encouraged you to be careful about whether or not your network perceives you as a PREDATOR or a PARTNER.  Click here to review that blog post.

Today, we’d like you to give some serious thought to the very first letter in the VCP Process® to Networking.  In short, your goal should be to first enter Visibility with people, then perform activities that will help you build trust and Credibility with them, and finally through time and the strengthening of that relationship, they will most likely pass you consistent referrals in the Profitability stage.  After all, “It’s not who you know, it’s who knows you.

Years ago, only the elite networkers were privy to this powerful concept.  These days, chances are this valuable information has trickled down to the average networker.  This is both a good thing – and a bad thing.  From our perspective, the good thing is that the average networker is now aware of this concept.  The bad thing is that the average networker typically misinterprets and mismanages the implementation of this concept.  Don’t agree?  Please hear us out . . .

Remember the movie “A Few Good Men” with Jack Nicholson where he forcefully delivers the famous line “You want the truth?  You can’t handle the truth!”?  Well, the facts are clear and the truth in business networking is that the average networker’s strategy doesn’t focus on successfully navigating through the VCP Process® and doesn’t focus on finding Referral Partners whom they cultivate long term, mutually beneficial relationships with to provide them consistent referrals.  Or worse yet, the average networker has no strategy at all.

The goal of networking is to build the ultimate network of professionals who, when asked:

  • Can and will support you
  • Can provide you with information to make you more valuable
  • Can vouch for you
  • Can lend you their credibility when introducing you to people in their networks
  • Can refer to you on a consistent basis

If you put yourself out in the marketplace as a person of value, others will want to connect with you.  Your role is to expose yourself to your local business community in a valuable way so that people feel a personal connection with you and feel compelled to assist you.  Most people have no concept of this strategy.  That’s what makes it so potent.  And then the dilemma is that a large percentage of those exposed to this strategy will never do the hard work that it takes for success to become a reality.  But, as noted above, the average networker typically misinterprets this concept.

Here’s an example:

Ivan met a woman years ago who told him she was the consummate networker – 100’s of contacts and a wide-ranging network of people from all walks of life.  Then one day in a conversation with him, she dropped a bombshell and said her networking efforts weren’t paying off.  She went on at some length about all the groups she went to, people she met, and how she made all these contacts but wasn’t getting any business.  The truth is that she was so busy running around and making appearances that she wasn’t learning how to actually ‘work’ these networks and build deep relationships.

A music teacher once told his students: “Lousy practice makes a lousy musician.”  The same holds true for networking; lousy networking makes a lousy networker!  This is why “practice doesn’t make perfect – perfect practice makes perfect.”

In closing, we’d like to recommend that you consider reflecting back upon your own networking journey and ask yourself:  “Have you exhausted all opportunities in your local community to attend Business Networking and/or Referral Marketing Training workshops?  Have you sought out an expert or someone that has proven results from their networking efforts that you can ask to be your accountability partner?  And…if you have attended workshops in the past, what are the results you’re getting today?  If you’re not getting the number of referrals you expect, maybe it’s time to revisit those workshops?”

We thank you for reading today’s post and extend an invitation to be on the lookout for next month’s contribution to this series – Part 4 called “Expose Yourself!”

Systems and Referral Marketing

It’s International Networking Week and one of the many ways I’m celebrating is by posting this video blog on how to network better and smarter with systems.  In this short video , I talk to my good friend Bertrand McHenry, a Referral Institute Trainer and Franchisee, about how people who develop a system for referral marketing generate substantially more business through referrals.

Watch this video to find out how creating a system for referrals can help you predict the income you will receive from referrals up to 12 months in advance and be sure to check out the International Networking Week video–make 2012 the year you commit to developing a networking strategy and achieving real business growth through a structured referral marketing system!

Year-End is Time for Vision Making

Each year, a few days before New Year’s Eve, I head off to my mountain retreat in Big Bear Lake, California, to recharge my batteries. It’s a great opportunity to spend time with the family and prepare for the onslaught of the coming year.

It’s also a good time to give some thought to the vision you have for your business and life over the next year.

It’s hard to hit a target you’re not aiming at. The new year is a great time to think about some of your plans and goals for the next 12 months (and beyond). Even if all you have is a couple days, take the time at the end of every year to slow down and do some “vision making” for your business. Remember that a successful businessperson needs to work “on” the business as well as “in” the business. Work “on” your business this month by creating your vision for 2012.

This is what I did back in the mid 1980’s when I had some time to reflect on this little networking enterprise that I started, called BNI.  It was during one of these year-end retreats that I created an organization chart for my company as part of my 5 year plan.  At the time, I had two part-time employees.  However, I created an organization chart with 15 different boxes on it.  I put my name in about 11 or 12 of the boxes for the areas I was responsible for and I put my part-timer’s names in the boxes for the areas they were responsible for.

Over the next 5 years, I scratched my name out of each box and put someone else’s name in that box as I hired someone to handle that area.  It was a great exercise that helped me achieve my goals over the next 5 years and it came from one of my year-end retreats.  Clearing your mind and thinking about your the future of your business can be a very good thing this time of year.  Even if you only have a couple days – get away and do some vision making.

If you use this time of year to think about your goals for the future, tell me what you do here in my blog.

Have a great New Year!

Ivan

 

Where There Are Systems There’s Success

I’m excited to tell all the readers of this blog that my next book, Business Networking And Sex (not what you think), will be released in January.  There was a substantial amount of survey data(*) that my co-authors and I were unable to use in the book so we plan on sharing much of that data on the BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com blog.

The following table shows the response to a question about having a “system to track money” in relation to whether or not the respondent felt that networking has “played a role in their success.”   As you can clearly see in this graph, people who had a system to track their business were more likely to have felt that networking has played a role in their success.  Even more notably, those who did not feel that networking played a role in their success were almost twice as likely to not have a system for tracking their business!

This is a powerful finding for people who wish to produce a referral-based business.  Clearly, those people who do not use “systems” to track their business are much more likely to feel that they are not successful in their networking efforts.

(*) Survey data is based on a survey of over 12,000 people from every populated continent in the world.  This survey is the basis of the book – Business Networking and Sex.

The lesson here is to start creating systems to help manage your referral marketing and business networking efforts.

Question – Have you used systems to manage this process?  If so, what have you done and how has it worked out?

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