Thoughtfulness always countsstring(28) "Thoughtfulness always counts"

Many spend their time at a networking event working the room, making meaningful connections with those around them, receiving and handing out business cards. As the event winds down, businesspeople go their separate ways, looking forward to their next event to grow their network.

It’s a nice story, but it really only covers part of your responsibility as a networker. Thoughtful, heartfelt follow up after events continues establishing those connections and makes your networking stronger. Your connections don’t have to be your best friends, but it certainly helps if they think you’re a caring person.

For those wondering, “Am I a thoughtful networker?” here is a quick checklist of three ways to be thoughtful. If you don’t already, try implementing these into your networking route.

 

handwritingSend handwritten cards

Thank you, happy birthday, condolences. There are plenty of excuses to bust out the stationary and send a handwritten card to a colleague or peer instead of an email. What makes this thoughtful? This effort involved. Emails are simple – you sat at your computer, typed a quick message, scanned it for typos and made necessary connections, and hit send. Done. Handwriting a card requires thinking through your message before you write it, and requires your attention to prevent errors. Not only that, but sending requires more than a click of a button.

 

Remember to follow up

Did you close your conversation with someone by saying, “Let me ask so-and-so about that and get back to you”? If you did, actually do it! You might forget that you promised to find out some trivial piece of information for them, but they certainly didn’t. Nothing could be more embarrassing for you than being called out for having forgotten to follow up on something you’d given your word that you would. As networkers, one of our greatest assets is our word – don’t let something as minor as a memory lapse steal yours.

 

Schedule time outside regular networking events to get to know them

This may seem like Networking 101, but it seems to be a frequently forgotten step of networking. Not only is it vital in helping you get to know your business connections (and vice versa), many will be flattered that you are interested in getting to know them better. Not only is this step thoughtful, it is critical if you want your connections to truly help you grow your business. People love to talk about themselves, and the more you learn about the new members of your network, the more they’ll want to know about you in turn.

What does thoughtfulness in networking mean to you? How many of the above steps do you do? What do you think is missing from this list? Let me know in the comments below!

Networking Is a Marathon, Not a Sprintstring(38) "Networking Is a Marathon, Not a Sprint"

The fact is, networking truly is a marathon of an endeavor–it’s most definitely not a sprint.  I have met so many people who practice what I call ‘hyperactive networking’ and they mistakenly approach networking at the speed of an all-out sprint–they want to be absolutely everywhere and meet absolutely everyone and they go, go, go ALL of the time until they soon inevitably burn out, ‘collapse,’ and give up.

It’s a real shame because if these people would, from the beginning, just slow down and take the time to develop a networking strategy and understand that networking takes time, patience, hard work, dedication, commitment, and endurance, they would be reaping great rewards from their networking efforts instead of exhausting themselves with nothing to show for it in the end.

Networking at its core is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships.  Sure, visibility is important, but without building trust right along with it, visibility won’t get you very far in the long run.  You can run around all day long going to networking events and shaking people’s hands, but if you’re not spending time following up and developing trust with the people you meet, then you haven’t really achieved much of anything that will actually give you results from your networking efforts–do not confuse activity with accomplishment. 

So, what are your tactics for pacing yourself in the marathon of networking?  What actions do you take to strategically build relationships?  I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts and ideas in the comment forum below–thanks!

10 Tips to Get the Most from Business Networkingstring(48) "10 Tips to Get the Most from Business Networking"

We all know that networking requires a significant amount of time, effort, and commitment.  Because of that, we all want to make sure that we’re getting the highest return on investment from our networking efforts.  Below, I have outlined 10 tips that will help you get the absolute most from the time you spend networking for your business.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. When asking for a referral from an associate or client, use the phrase, “Who do you know who . . .?”  This is an open-ended question that works well.  Do not alter the phrase.  Ohter phrases have been tried, but none have produced the desired results.
  2. Have someone else tell a group of people how good your product or service is.  This beats anything you can say about yourself.  Ask people who have used your products or services to talk about their experience at the next meeting.
  3. Top business executives insulate themselves from those who may try to sell them products or services.  Through word of mouth you can still increase your volume of business, because you know a hundred people, who know a hundred people, who in turn know a hundred people, and so on.  The great referrals are probably not going to come from a CEO, but from someone who knows a CEO.
  4. If you have an opportunity to distribute your materials, do it.  Bring products, samples, brochures, or a presentation book to the business meetings you attend.  If people can see, feel, touch, hear, or smell samples of the product or service you provide, they are more likely to use you.
  5. Offer a special price or service to the members of your networks.  If you can get the members to use you, they are much more likely to refer you.
  6. Anyone active in networking groups can benefit by developing a presentation book, taking it to meetiings, and making sure it gets circulated.
  7. If your product or service is conducive to this approach, tell the members of your network that you accept speaking engagements as bona fide referrals.  Ask them to pitch you to the program chair of other organizations they belong to.
  8. Meet people outside the meeting context whenever you can.  Write cards or letters, send articles that might be of interest, call to check in, and let them know about local business mixers.
  9. To get good referrals, tell people when they’ve given you a bad referral.  If you don’t, you’ll keep getting bad referrals.  Teach people what you consider to be a good referral.
  10. Monitor the referrals you get.  This tells you how often you get referrals, their source, quality, status, and dollar payoff.  Having this information helps you focus on individuals and groups who are giving you the best referrals.  This allows you to reciprocate with people who are giving you the most referrals.

Do you have additional tips for networkers to get the most from business networking?  I’d love to hear your ideas–please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

‘More Money Mondays’–FREE Referral Tips to Shorten Your Work Weekstring(83) "‘More Money Mondays’–FREE Referral Tips to Shorten Your Work Week"

At a recent Referral Institute® Conference, I had the opportunity to talk with my good friend (and partner in the Referral Institute), Mike Macedonio, about a fantastic new (and completely FREE) service which is available to businesspeople and networkers across the globe.  It’s called ‘More Money Mondays’ and by signing up for the service you get weekly referral marketing tips delivered to you via e-mail each Monday which will help you learn how to simultaneously build your business and make your work week shorter and more enjoyable.

Watch the video now to get all the details on this exciting new service and CLICK HERE or go to www.MoreMoneyMondays.com to sign up for your FREE weekly referral marketing tips.  If you’re already utilizing ‘More Money Mondays,’ I’d love to hear what you think of the service it provides–please leave your thoughts and feedback in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Why Wait for Business? Go out and Get It!string(42) "Why Wait for Business? Go out and Get It!"

Photo courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The best referral efforts I’ve seen happen by design, not by accident or wishful thinking.  Many business people view referral generation somewhat like the weather: “Sure, it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Referrals and business networking efforts can be planned and nurtured.  Anyone, including business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, staff employees, even individuals serving in a volunteer capacity in any field, can accomplish plenty with a well-structured and systematically executed referral plan for a business.

All too often I have seen business people waiting for business to walk through the door.  They think because they are good at what they do, people should be flocking to them. I’m afraid the truth is, it doesn’t work that way! You have to take charge, no matter what business you’re in or how good you are, and bring the business in to you.

I once saw a cartoon strip of two large, ravenous-looking vultures perched on a tree limb, overlooking a dry desert plain. After quite a while, one vulture turns to the other and says, “Wait for something to die? Hell, let’s kill something!” So it is with referral marketing. You can’t simply wait for people to come to you. If you do, one of your competitors who also provides good customer service will most likely find them before they show up at your door-step.  If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals.

So . . . don’t wait around.  Do something!  Think of three things you can do this week to actively strengthen your referral marketing efforts and please feel free to share your ideas in the comment forum below–you never know whom your great ideas might help!

It Never Hurts to Ask . . . Right?string(34) "It Never Hurts to Ask . . . Right?"

How many times have we heard people say that it never hurts to ask? Surely more times than we can count. 

Well, in this video, I explain why it definitely hurts to ask sometimes–especially if you ask to soon!  I share a personal story of a recent time when a stranger contacted me via LinkedIn wanting to connect and accompanied the connection request with a note asking me something which I found inappropriate to the point that I decided right then that I was never even going to consider connecting with her.

Watch the video to hear the story and to find out why I flagged the woman’s LinkedIn request as problematic on three significant levels.  Let me just say that this is ‘Networking 101’ and if I were her teacher, she would have gotten a failing grade–this is not the way to network!  Whether you frequently participate in face-to-face networking, online networking, or both, you’ll definitely want to hear this story so you never make the three mistakes that this woman did.

I’d really love to hear your feedback on this.  What are your thoughts?  Also, please share any similar horror stories you may have in the comment forum below–I’m looking forward to hearing from you.  Thanks!

Are You on the Right Track with Career Networking?string(50) "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!

Get a Top Notch Networking Education for Free at NetworkingNow.com!string(67) "Get a Top Notch Networking Education for Free at NetworkingNow.com!"

This video from NetworkingNow.com explains the powerful impact your business card can have and why it’s so important to tailor your business card to coincide with the exact business image you want to present.  

This video is just one example of the vast array of educational content offered on NetworkingNow.com–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 and let 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?

Have You Been Overlooking This Important Step in Your Networking Efforts?string(73) "Have You Been Overlooking This Important Step in Your Networking Efforts?"

I recorded this video a few years back for an organization interested in learning about business networking and when I ran across it last week, I thought it would be good information to share here as what I discuss is still just as important as ever.

If you don’t know what a Contact Sphere is, I urge you to watch this short video because developing a Contact Sphere is one of the most important steps in business networking.  After watching the video, think about who might be a good fit for you in creating a Contact Sphere and if you have questions, please leave them in the comment forum below.  I’m more than happy to answer any questions you may have and, also, if you’ve already developed a Contact Sphere, please share your thoughts on how it has helped you to grow your business.

International Networking Week Video 2013string(40) "International Networking Week Video 2013"

The new video for International Networking Week® 2013 has just been released!

This short, 11-minute video, sponsored by the Referral Institute, explains how the week of February 4th-8th, 2013 will bring about great opportunities for businesspeople around the world and increase worldwide awareness about the powerful benefits of business networking. International Networking Week® 2013

2013 will mark the 7th annual celebration of International Networking Week which is now recognized by many countries across the globe, with thousands of events being held during the week. One of the main goals of the week is to help businesspeople everywhere build their networking skills and expand the opportunities within their reach.  In the video, my “Room Full of Referrals” co-authors (Tony Alessandra and Dawn Lyons) offer some very valuable pointers on understanding behavioral profiles in a networking context and where to focus your efforts in order to make the most of International Networking Week.

Take a few minutes to watch the video and share with us here on the blog what you learned.

Preparation & Follow Up–the Two Keys to Referral Successstring(67) "Preparation & Follow Up–the Two Keys to Referral Success"

In this brief video, filmed at the 2012 BNI® International Directors’ Conference in early November, I talk with Terry Hamill, a respected business networking expert based in Europe.  Terry explains two important keys for maximum effectiveness and success in business referral generation–preparation and follow up.

Terry advises that the true gold is in the follow up and that the most successful networkers use the strongest follow-up methods; he also offers a few important tips for preparation prior to attending networking meetings and events.

Do you have a favorite follow-up method or a highly effective preparation tactic that you use prior to attending networking functions?  If so, we’d love to hear about it!  What works well for you could really help other people in their journey to networking success so, by all means, please feel free to share your favored methods and tactics in the comment forum below. Thanks!

We vs. Mestring(9) "We vs. Me"

While it may not single-handedly solve all the economic problems facing the world today, a new model of community and networking may well be the key to pulling the global economy out of the effects of the long-term global recession.

Networking has always been a powerful strategy to get business by giving business and connecting with others. Community and networking will be a particularly potent formula for success and prosperity over the coming decades.

Michael R. Drew, publishing expert and friend of mine whom I’ve known for 13 years who has helped me achieve bestseller status five times over, has some interesting ideas about the importance of building relationships to succeed in business.

Michael and his coauthor, Roy H. Williams have a very interesting theory in their new book Pendulum [www.penduluminaction.com/bni]. After reading the book, it confirmed in my mind why business networking is positioned to grow massively over the next three decades.

As Michael and Roy explain, societal values follow a cyclical pattern that shifts every 40 years from a “Me” based society, which values feeling and looking good now, instant gratification and cares little for long-term consequences to a “We” based society, which values community and working together for the good of the whole. Roy and Michael have 3,000 years of data to back up this theory.

The rumblings of this transition from “Me” values to “We” values have been evident over the past decade. Once successful business models that embraced exceptionalism and fierce competition are failing and going the way of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. These cycles influence the effectiveness of networking, too. In a “We” cycle, the strength of an individual contributes to the strength of the whole. For example, when established professionals partner with newer, “junior” professionals, both of the partners and the consumers each benefit from the relationship—win, win, win. Knowledge and wisdom are shared, and then blended with new ideas and innovation. This increases the value the end user receives from the relationship.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, traditional marketing strategies focus on hype, promises of bigger, better and more and ‘guarantee’ dramatic results with minimum input. Consumers today are tired of these messages, and instead they are drawn to messages of authenticity, transparency and lasting relationships. They want to work with companies and people who deliver on their promises and actually care about those they are doing business with.

What does this mean for you as a member of a networking group? While business schools and economic experts will speculate and deliberate about the causes of the current economic downturn, knowing the current trend of society’s values can help you succeed by doing what you’re already doing–building relationships through networking. The philosophy of Givers Gain® matches the current values of a “We” cycle in society today.

Good networking groups are all about building relationships and working together as a community to help others reach their goals. What goes around comes around in a very real sense. Business networking is an ideal place to capture the power of this concept to help you reach your own goals by helping others reach their own.

Word-of-mouth will heft a heavier punch in the coming years as well. Your customers will listen more attentively to the recommendations of those they know, like and trust. In today’s global market, a word of recommendation can reach others across the globe. So can a heated complaint. Consumers want to see that you walk the walk more than they want to listen to you talk the talk.

Faceless corporations and big businesses are struggling. For many, they’ve lost the personal connection with their audience or customers. As an entrepreneur, there is no need for you to fall by the wayside with failing businesses. By working together in this “We” cycle, you can help build each other up through relationships and referrals, increasing the success and profitability of businesses in your community. These small actions will be far-reaching and may do more to turn this recession around than many other larger-scale efforts

By participating in networking and working to give back to business owners and community, you will be doing your part to create a stronger economy worldwide—and a stronger global economy makes a better world for everyone.

I’ve read Pendulum and I was so impressed with it that I wrote an endorsement for it. This book is a must-read for anyone in a networking organization. I feel so strongly about this that I’ve arranged with Michael for all readers of my blog to get a free copy of the book. [www.penduluminaction.com/bni] All Michael asks is that you cover shipping and handling costs (shipments outside the US are more).

Get your free copy of Michael and Roy’s book today. Read it. Then use the insights they share to keep building relationships in your market, because Givers Gain®—especially in the current “We” cycle. As you give to other businesses through networking, they will give back to you, too—and that is how we all can take part in pulling the economy out of a recession.

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