Networking is the perfect way to help take your business to the next level. However, putting your eggs in one basket and depending on one networking group to satisfy all your needs won’t work. So, which business networking organizations should you join?
We all select different people in our lives that satisfy various needs that contribute to our well being; our parents provide comfort and guidance, our close friends provide support and cheer, our business relationships provide trust and honesty. While these satisfactions may overlap from group to group, it’s important to have more than one person you’re leaning on for all your emotional needs.
It’s the same with your networking groups! While you may find cheer and honesty in more than one group, it’s important to spread your interests to gain a varied support system. Business professionals who don’t have a lot of spare time often ask us which networking groups provide the biggest bang for their buck. There are five main types, and what works best depends on the business they’re in and the prospects they want to meet. Therefore, when selecting your business networking organizations, you need to understand which types are available so you can make an informed decision.
Here’s a quick rundown of the most familiar types.
Last year, I gathered almost 3,400 survey responses from business people around the world. I gave them a list of almost 20 different characteristics on networking and I asked them to pick the top behaviors they’d like to see in a great networker. From those responses, I have identified the top characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker and have listed the five ways to better networking in this video.
At the top of the list is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. Listen to people’s needs and concerns and find opportunities to help them. You can’t help others if you don’t know what they need, and you find that out by listening. In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots but to do that you have to listen so that you can help people make the connections they are looking for.
The first thing that people see from you is your attitude, how you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends and family to them.
People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people shows that you care. One survey respondent said that “people want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude.” Helping others can be done in a variety of ways. For example, clip a helpful article and email it to someone. Furthermore, put them in touch with a person who can help them with a specific challenge. Several respondents commented about not wanting to network with people who are “in it for themselves.” A willingness to collaborate and help others is essential. It builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.
You can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it! Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity at every turn. One respondent stated that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you. We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but lack sincerity. Faking it isn’t sustainable.
If you offer opportunities, whether a simple piece of information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person. One respondent said that when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just “don’t follow up anymore.”
Successful networking of any kind starts with the genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. If you are only networking to gain and not to give, you’ll never be successful.
Building Relationships should become one of the most important components of your business. You should build your business by farming not hunting. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it’s not powerful. Social capital is like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal. Relationships are very much the same – referral relationships in particular. You must support and help others with their business before you can ask for their help.
Remember business networking is more about FARMING than it is about HUNTING.
It’s about cultivating relationships and taking the time and energy to help them grow and flourish. A good farmer knows when to tend to his crop and when to harvest it; if you over pick, you’ll be left with nothing. But if you continue to care for and maintain your crop, it will grow abundantly.
Let’s think of the farmers, the ones who cultivate steady, growing, genuine and authentic relationships with the people they feel are important to include in their network. They have a steady back-and-forth of interactions that benefits not only them. Everyone involved is rewarded. Why? Because the time is taken to really get to know people enough to make a relationship means that when it comes time to make a referral, it’s much easier to call upon them.
Watch this video below to hear more details about the true meaning of business networking.
How do you define “Business Networking”?
This word has become so overused that some business professionals can no longer define networking. Many people think that networking is attending social or business after-hour events, shaking a few hands, collecting a few cards, and, of course, giving away a few cards of their own. Sadly, they actually believe that’s all there is to networking. To be fair, we could say they’re engaging in social networking. That’s never to be confused, however, with business networking.
Businesspeople tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to their views of networking. For many, the current mindset is that networking is a passive business strategy, not a proactive marketing tool. This attitude results in a scattered, often ineffective networking approach that consequently wastes the business owner’s time and money. Not surprisingly, when people feel they’ve been wasting their time and money on something, they’re understandably not going to continue that activity.
On the other hand, some proprietors do consider networking a proactive marketing tool for their business. How can you tell? They make it a significant part of their marketing and business plans. These business owners have networking goals. They may even have a budget line item for networking. Most importantly, they practice it and live it every day. They are training a sales force. Their networking team is there to keep an eye out for potential clients. If you “target talk”, that is, hone in on exactly what type of client you are looking for, better, more qualified referrals will result.
After watching the video, let us know your thoughts on the definition of business networking. Do you have a different definition or any feedback on what may be missing from the new definition of networking that we’ve provided here? We’d love to hear from you so please leave your comments in the comments below. Thanks!
When you want to nail a presentation, start by explaining your lowest common denominators, or the most immediate, universal value of your business.
If you can break your business down to its smallest components and focus on just one aspect of your business in your weekly presentations, it works much better than providing a laundry list of things you do, or a vague and meaningless term like “full-service.”
For instance, a real estate agent might do 60-second presentations about first-time home buyers, condos, single-family-homes, investment properties, house flipping, downsizing your home for empty-nesters, buying a larger home for a growing family, the communities you focus your business on, and so forth.
No matter what your business is, you know enough about it to break it down in the same way. If you do a whole series of LCDs over the course of a year, by the end of the year everyone in your chapter will know so much about your business that they can give you great referrals.
When it comes to telling people about what you do, the deeper you go into the specifics the greater your success will be. In this video, I talk about how to explain and promote your business by breaking it down into its Lowest Common Denominators .
Many years ago, I visited a BNI meeting where I witnessed the absolute best presentation I’ve ever heard at a weekly networking meeting and it was given by a florist who focused on the details of a single rose. Watch the video now to hear the story of what the florist did and said that made his presentation so successful and to learn why specificity is key in talking about exactly what it is that you do. If you belong to a strong contact network where you give weekly presentations, the more specific you can be in explaining the aspects of your business, the greater your results will be.
If you struggle to come up with talking points about your business at your weekly networking meetings, this video is for you. I offer a simple strategy for pre-planning your presentation topics for an entire year–never again will you have to wing your presentations because you’re not sure how to describe what you do.
So, what aspect of your business are you going to focus on at your next networking meeting? Make up a quick list of ideas for LCD presentations right now. Share your list–and your stories of how LCDs worked for you. I’d love to hear about it. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!
People who say that networking played a role in their success spent an average of 6 1/2 hours a week networking and had half of their clients from their networking time. However, people who did not invest as much time networking also did not report as much reward. So, how much time should you spend networking?
Therefore, spend about 8-10 hours per week networking and do the right things to build the relationships first when networking.
The secret to getting more business through networking is. . . spending more time doing it! OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things. However, devoting the necessary time is the starting point. So how much networking time (or NetTime) should you spend developing your personal network and what kind of results can you expect to see?
The survey results
Based on a survey that I helped to write and conduct of over 12,000 business professionals from every populated continent in the world, we finally have a definitive answer to those questions. The study found that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.3 hours a week participating in networking activities. On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.
Clearly, those people who spent very little time engaged in the process felt that networking was not an effective way to build their business. As with many other aspects of life, you clearly reap what you sow. It’s no wonder that the people who didn’t invest as much time also did not realize as much reward. This demonstrates the direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you will likely realize from it.
You may be reading this article and thinking – OK, I now know that I need to be spending at least 6 ½ hours a week networking. Well, that’s true IF you want to be average (and what successful business person wants to be average)! If on the other hand, you’d like to be above average – you need to devote more time than that to the cause. The optimum amount of NetTime is more likely to be 8-10 hours a week if you want to be one of those people that are generating well over half their business from referrals.
How much time do you spend networking each week? More? Less? and what percentage of business do you get from your networking efforts? Comment below.
The fear of rejection is a powerful driver in most people’s lives. It dictates what we take risks on, it makes us hold back, and it even hinders us from reaching our potential.
The fear of rejection is an emotion that many of us carry in our personal lives, but it can very easily seep into our professional one as well. We all come to that nexus point in our lives: we can do something, or we can do nothing. The fear of rejection almost held me back from promoting my book, The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret, because I was worried some bookstores wouldn’t want to carry my book. But you know what I realized?
Some will, some won’t–so what?
Watch the video below for more on conquering the fear of rejection.
Don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from doing what you are excited about. If you are excited about your business, don’t let rejection stop you. You have to just know that when it comes to asking somebody to do something; some will, some won’t, so what? It’s not the end of the world. For me, I just had to put myself in the frame of mind that what I was facing was simply not that big a thing. I now do this same thing whenever I’m faced with a situation which opens up the possibility for rejection. I just tell myself that if someone doesn’t want to do what I’m asking, that’s fine. It’s not that big a deal.
Imagine you’re at a networking event. You are mixing and mingling and start passing out your business cards like candy. Suddenly, someone hands it back you and says, “No thank you, I do not need your business card.” This actually happened to a BNI Member. He wrote to me, astonished, and asked what I would do in his situation. Well, here’s my answer.
A business card is a tacit invitation to make a future connection. How you handle that connection afterward will determine how responsive your new contact will be. So be respectful of what you do after someone gives you their card.
You should always have plenty of business cards with you. It still amazes me that people go to networking events and knowingly don’t bring cards with them. I recently read a blog where many people said they didn’t bring cards so that they wouldn’t get spammed by people they meet. Really? Have they never heard of a spam filter? I use it regularly with unwanted spam. Besides, that argument is like saying I don’t want to advertise because someone might read the ad and cold call me? What kind of logic is that? Buck-up, dandelion, bring cards. It is a “networking” event!
The ideal scenario is to have a meaningful (even if brief) conversation with someone where they ask for your business card (how to do that is an entirely different blog). However, that doesn’t always happen. When it doesn’t, it is still ok to offer your business card to someone. There is nothing wrong with that.
Refusing to take someone’s offered card is just plain bad manners. What do you do if this happens to you? Realize that some people just have little or no people skills and move on to someone who does.
Tiffanie Kellog is a professional speaker, coach, and trainer with Asentiv, and is co-owner of a business with her husband. Therefore, Tiffanie has helped entrepreneurs over the years make more money while saving time. Thus they can have more fun. She is dedicated to helping others make more money in less time.
To contact Tiffanie, call her at 813-263-9690 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Have you ever wondered what the ONE secret to success is in regard to networking for your business? In this video, I reveal the answer to that very question and I also explain four key networking fundamentals which are guaranteed to boost your bottom line.
In order to be successful in building relationships that will lead to business referrals and opportunities, there are four things you need to focus on:
Quality is first on the list for a reason. The process begins by being very selective about who you bring into your circle of business networking relationships. You want your network to include quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude. You also want people who are good at what they do.
Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships you develop. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect. Therefore, it is important to build meaningful relationships with your referral partners over an extended period of time if you want to generate more business.
Continuously add people to your network.
Years ago, I learned that there is a dramatic correlation between the size of a quality group and the number of referrals that are generated by that group.
In your network, the number of possible business referral connections is a squared multiple of the actual number of people in your network. So as you begin to build your own network of referral relationships, keep in mind that the more, the better. The bottom line is that the greater the number of connections you have (based on quality relationships of course), the more referrals you can generate. The math is pretty significant and consistent.
Engagement involves a promise and an action. In order to achieve success in your networking relationships, you and your contacts must promise to support one another and take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.
There are many ways that you can become engaged. Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network? Have you educated them on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top-of-mind as they meet others who have a need for them? Have you educated yourself on the key features of their businesses so that you can do the same?
The greater the number of people in your network engaged in these activities, the more likely they will be to generate significant referrals. The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.
Listening closely to information shared by those in your referral network will help you tell positive stories about them when you see potential opportunities to refer them. Holding regular meetings with contacts in your network will help you tell stories when you give referrals and vice versa.
A good story compels people to take action. If you want to build your network in order to generate more referrals, place story-telling at the top of your efforts. Facts tell, but stories sell.
When you meet someone at a networking event, drop them a note within the first 24hours. It can be a personal handwritten note or an email, just make sure to use whatever approach that you will do consistently.
Within 7 days, connect with them on social media. Make a connection via LinkedIn or Facebook. Follow them on Twitter or join them on Google+. Find ways to connect and engage with them via the social media platform(s) you are most active on. Do NOT do this as a way to “sell” to them, do it as a way to start to establish a meaningful connection with them.
Within 30days reach out to them to set up a 1-2-1 meeting. If you live near each other, meet in person (that is almost always best). If you are far from one another, set up a meeting via Skype or by phone. At this meeting find out more about what they do and look for ways to help them in some way. Don’t make it a “sales call” make it a relationship building opportunity.
If you do the 24/7/30 approach to your follow-up, you will establish a powerful routine that will help you to make your networking efforts meaningful and successful.
“Avoiding the Networking Disconnect: The Three R’s to Reconnect”
by Ivan Misner and Brennan Scanlon
This book is for business people wanting to increase their business through the “three Rs.” Similar to the three Rs of education (reading, writing, and arithmetic), the three Rs of business networking—relationships, referrals, and results—must be consistently cultivated to avoid the networking disconnect. The book provides you with the five steps for building and maintaining strong business networks—steps that go far beyond just showing up at events and passing out your business cards! It will take some effort, and the process won’t always flow smoothly, but with the aid of Avoiding the Networking Disconnect, you’ll soon be reaping the generous benefits of a business approach based on sharing and trust.
A friend of mine once said, “If we could get every single business person in the world, every single entrepreneur, to play their part, we could get on top of most of the world’s problems.” That friend was Richard Branson, and I took his message about his Plan B Initiative.to heart. It made me think about what I could do through BNI to make an impact on the globe and sent me on an introspective journey about being a business owner and the responsibility we had to serve not only our customers but society as a whole.
What I came up with are four ways to help your business find direction and purpose in helping others, whether it be in your local area or in the global community.
Garage to Global
In this video, I discuss how businesses can give back to the community. This is a part of what I call the “Ivanisms Series”: all of my personal quotes and phrases and why they have worked for me. Therefore, please watch this video to understand what Richard Branson means.
Can Your Business Serve the Greater Good?
All of us are in business to make a profit. But if that’s the primary driving force in business, we become mercenaries to that process. I believe that I should serve a greater need than simply to make a profit. I believe that business can be honorable. It can make a difference in individual lives as well as communities.
Business can be honorable. It can be something that improves people’s lives as well as supports and helps local communities. It can do so, by not only helping to generate more business for one another, but by giving back to the community, mentoring others, immersing in a culture of shared learning, and by collaborating with others.
The BNI Foundation
When corporations have a vision bigger than their profit and loss statement, amazing things can happen. BNI, the world’s leading referral organization, is one such corporation. Started by Ivan and Beth Misner in 1998, the BNI Foundation has been supporting children and education in the United States and around the world by mobilizing resources to give kids everywhere a quality education. The focus of the BNI Foundation is to help the youth of our community to find the path to productive and successful lives. For us, the mechanism to help with this shift is by investing our time, treasure, and talent to assist in education where we can. http://bnifoundation.org/
What is Business Voices ™?
The BNI Foundation has a long, proud legacy of helping out where schools have needed extra funding for projects not provided for by school districts or state funding. A pivotal factor of our philanthropic work was the creation of the Business Voices™ initiative to provide even more to the schools which have with the greatest needs.
Our initiative pairs BNI members and concerned, engaged and motivated corporations, service clubs and community groups with schools and educational organizations. The goal is to help them find the resources they need to have maximum impact on the kids of our communities.
Where is your cell phone right now? For many of you, you’re reading this blog post on it. For those who aren’t, it’s probably within arm’s reach. However, we are always connected to our jobs, our families, our outside lives. All thanks to that little ringing device we carry in our pockets and bags. Therefore, this state of hyperconnectivity leaves us often dividing our focus. Rarely are we 100 percent paying attention to any given thing.
Check out this week’s video blog by clicking on the graphic below, or clicking here, to hear what I have to say about this rising phenomenon.
How many times have you been at a networking function and realized that half of the people there are paying more attention to their mobile devices. Therefore, they are not paying attention to the other attendees? Worse, have you yourself been guilty of staying so glued to your phone or tablet that you have missed the opportunity to make a powerful connection with the person standing right in front of you?
Continuous Partial Attention
We are living in a world that is more connected than ever. There are some definite pitfalls in our hyperconnected world as it intersects with our business relationships and our networking. One of these pitfalls is that hyperconnectivity can lead to a state of what I call ‘continuous partial attention.’
In this video, I introduce the concept of ‘continuous partial attention’. I also discuss the risks and repercussions which accompany it. Watch the video now to learn how to avoid falling into a state of continuous partial attention and prevent it from wreaking havoc on your productivity at work and your ability to achieve your goals.
If you have any stories about how falling victim to a state of continuous partial attention has affected you or someone you know, I’d love for you to share your experience in the comments below. Thanks!