Don’t Do THIS at Your Networking Meetingstring(42) "Don’t Do THIS at Your Networking Meeting"

Imagine yourself sitting in an important meeting with your biggest client when you get a text message. Would you stop listening to your client and completely ignore them so you could respond to the text?

What if you got a phone call . . . would you stop in the middle of your presentation as you were pitching your most important customer about your newest product in order to answer the call? 

The answer to both questions is – of course you wouldn’t! That would be a blatantly rude move on your part, and it would put your most valued client relationship at risk.

So, why in the world would anybody even consider looking at their phone during a business networking meeting??

To be clear, a good reason for looking at it, picking it up, or using your phone in any way during any type of networking meeting does not exist!

One of the fastest ways to ruin your credibility and earn a reputation of being rude, unprofessional, and undeserving of referrals is to use your phone during a networking meeting. It virtually screams to your networking partners: I don’t care what you have to say because I have better things to do right now, and this meeting is unimportant to me.

If you want positive results from your business networking efforts, then that is the last thing you would ever feel about, or say to, anyone in your network. And yet, if you are using your phone during meetings with your referral network, I promise you–not only is that the exact message you are sending them, you’re also wasting their time and yours.

Click the short video for the story of what I actually heard during an online business networking meeting.

I couldn’t believe it!

Practice Active Listening

We all understand that there is a great deal of overlap between in-person and online networking. However, networking online only works when you are engaged during the entire meeting. You need to learn about your fellow members – their business, their best customers, and their target markets, so you will know how to recognize referrals that you can give to them. Effective networking and building strong business relationships both require active listening. To do that, you have to be fully engaged in every part of the meeting, giving all of your attention to whomever is speaking. Skip the multi-tasking, keep your focus.

Now, I do believe in taking notes. When someone mentions who a good referral would be for their products or service, and I immediately think of a person in my network, I’m going to write that down so I can follow up after the meeting.

Remember, great networkers go to networking events with the intention of building relationships. That means you need to be an active participant in the entire process to get any substantive results.

My recommendation is to check your phone one last time before your networking meeting . . . check that it is completely turned off and don’t turn it back on until you leave the meeting, whether it is in-person or virtual.
Remember, networking meetings and phones don’t mix!

The Referral Gatekeeperstring(23) "The Referral Gatekeeper"

When I started my first business, I knew I wanted referrals to play a key part in my overall growth strategy. The only problem was I didn’t know exactly what I needed to do to accomplish that goal. So I joined some business associations, started networking more, and did everything I could to generate word-of-mouth marketing. I began to realize that I wasn’t the only one trying to get more sales through referrals. A lot of other business professionals were attempting to do the same thing.

It also occurred to me that the people I knew were different from the people the next person knew, who were different from the next person’s contacts, and so on. I might get a few referrals from my own network, but I could probably get a few more referrals from the other person’s network, and the ones beyond that, almost without limit.

Then I thought, “What if I became the hub?” If all the other people out there were trying to do the same thing I was, perhaps I could position myself as a type of gatekeeper between other people’s networks. If someone wanted to buy a new home and needed a real estate agent but didn’t have one in their own network, they would come to me and see whom I knew.

The Letter

I composed a letter that I sent out to my client and prospect list several times a year. Today you could send out a quick email to your database. However, I recommend that you send a hard copy in the mail at least once a year so you stand out from everybody else who is emailing your clients. This is a sample of my letter:

Dear________:

I really believe in the process of referrals, so part of the service I provide is to be sure to refer my clients and associates to other qualified businesspeople in the community.

Attached is a list of areas in which I know very credible, ethical, and outstanding professionals. If you’re looking for a professional in a specific area I’ve listed, please feel free to contact me.  I will be glad to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.

Sincerely,

Dr. Ivan Misner

 

It is important to note that in this letter that I just listed professions (areas of expertise); I didn’t list names and phone numbers. I wanted my clients to contact me so I could personally put the referral and the contact together, so I could build business relationships through being the go-to guy. I didn’t want to become a glorified phone directory. I wanted to become known as an effective networker, and that would only happen if I made the connections myself. 

The result was that others would ask someone on my client list, “Whom do you know who does XYZ?” If they didn’t know anyone, then they would send that person to me.

How Did It Help My Business?

  1. It encouraged me to continue building and deepening my relationships with others, even if I didn’t think they could help me right away. Our natural tendency is to nurture relationships with those we feel can help us the most. Yet the fact is, we never know who another person knows, so we should take every opportunity to build relationships with the people we meet. Bob Smith might not be a good referral partner for me, but he could be ideal for Jane Doe, another person I know.
  2. Becoming a gatekeeper had a positive effect on my credibility. I wanted to be the go-to guy in the business community–the person others came to if they needed a referral for anything. This meant that I would be deepening relationships with people I might not otherwise have gotten to know. Since people do business with people they like and trust, who do you think got their referrals when they needed someone with my products and services? . . . Yep, me!

I mailed the letter four times in the first year. I didn’t get a single reply until the third time. After that, the floodgates opened and I got responses every time I sent it. I gradually cultivated a reputation as a gatekeeper by doing this and I no longer had to send out my letter several times a year. People came to see me because they heard I knew a great number of businesspeople in the community.                    

It is hard to understate the importance of becoming a gatekeeper for anyone seeking to grow a business with word-of-mouth marketing. It’s a strategy that gets people to contact you for a referral, and it also opens a dialogue with people about what your business is all about and how you can help them. This leads to more business with existing clients as well as new business with prospects.

When you’re networking, make an effort to build relationships with people who may be good referral partners for others in your network, and try to connect them with each other. A gatekeeper holds the keys to help others AND grow their own business. I believe that if you do this consistently, you’ll get more referrals in the long run.

Why Wait for a Class Reunion to Network with Former Classmates?string(63) "Why Wait for a Class Reunion to Network with Former Classmates?"

On my very first day in graduate school, I went to an 8-hour weekly class (yes, really– 8) that had a total of two professors and ten students. One of the professors spent the first two hours talking about the elite network of peers that we were going to be working alongside for the next two years and how we were going to build relationships that would last the rest of our professional careers.

Sadly, even though I ended up founding an international networking organization, I have never passed a business referral to, or received a referral from, one of my high-level fellow classmates. After graduation we all spread out to chase our professional goals and didn’t keep in touch.

Keep in mind that I was working on my doctorate in the early 1980s and I finished it in ’93, well before social networks were available to help people keep in touch. Fortunately, the internet now offers a multitude of options to help you reconnect with old school friends  and convert those past relationships into current relationships, and perhaps useful connections for your business.

Today’s Opportunities

I offer three networking suggestions that can help you effectively connect with your former classmates before a reunion or in between class reunions.

  1.   Contact your school’s alumni services department

Alumni departments really want to find out what is going on with the students who have graduated there. Colleges and universities have created networking affinity groups and other opportunities to help students keep their relationship with each other as well as with their universities. You can share news about your business that may catch the eye of your fellow graduates.

Because I reconnected with the universities that I went to and shared my story, I got published in the alumni magazines, was recognized as an Alumni of the Year, and was  asked to speak at two commencements.

  1.   Reconnect on Social Media

LinkedIn is the largest business only platform and you are likely to find many of your former classmates there. A complete LinkedIn profile includes your educational background in addition to your professional experiences.

Facebook is a social networking site that makes it easy for you to connect and share with family and friends online. I hear many stories about how people have reconnected with classmates and childhood friends they have not seen in years. I even had an alumni party at my house because I started connecting with old classmates on Facebook.

  1.   Gently Seek Referrals

I think social media is best used as a brand-building tool. However, you can use it to turn followers and connections into sales IF you do it tactfully.

Write an occasional post on your pages asking your contacts if they know of someone who might be a potential customer for your business. You can also occasionally mention a special deal or announce a special event that your business is having and encourage others to “like” and “share” your posts with the people in their networks.

Remember that the VCP Process® always applies – Visibility, Credibility, Profitability. Before you start asking for referrals, you must be at credibility with people. And you build credibility by building relationships. If you are constantly using hard sales tactics with your social media network, they will drop you or unfriend you. 

You Don’t Have to Wait

You don’t have to wait for a reunion to connect with your former classmates.
Do these three things:
Contact your school’s alumni services.
Reconnect using social media.
Eventually seek referrals, doing so tactfully and gently.

After reading this, I encourage you to connect with a former classmate in the next week by using one of the options above.
Then come back and leave a comment about your experience or post it on my social media. I’d love to hear your classmate connection story!

The Power of the VCP Process®string(30) "The Power of the VCP Process®"

The VCP Process is the foundation of everything I teach about business networking.
It is why we go to networking events. We don’t go to networking events to “sell,” we go to those events to work our way through the VCP Process.

What is VCP?

The key concept in referral marketing is relationships – mutually beneficial relationships.
However, these relationships don’t just spring up full grown; they must be cultivated and nurtured. As they grow and develop, they evolve through three phases: Visibility, Credibility, and Profitability. The VCP Process describes the creation, growth, and strengthening of all relationships. It is useful for assessing the status of a business relationship to determine where that relationship is in the process of getting referrals. 

VISIBILITY
Visibility is the phase where people know who you are and what you do.

This happens when two professionals become aware of each other and their respective businesses. It could be because of advertising efforts, or through a civic or business association, or through someone you both know. You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, however, you know very little about each other. 

The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can refer business. 

Visibility must be actively developed and maintained. Without it, you cannot move on to the next phase.

CREDIBILITY
Credibility is the phase where people know who you are, what you do, AND they know you’re good at it.

It is the quality of being reliable and worthy of confidence – appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, services are rendered. When you and your new acquaintance begin to form expectations of each other, and those expectations are fulfilled, the relationship enters the credibility phase of the process.

The old saying that “results speak louder than words” is true and very important for building your credibility in the business relationships you are developing within your networks. You cannot buy credibility, you can only EARN it. Therefore, getting to credibility takes time. When you get to credibility, then you can get to the next phase.

PROFITABILITY
Profitability is the phase where people know who you are and what you do. They know you’re good at it, AND they are willing to refer business to you on an ongoing, reciprocal basis.

The relationship that has developed and matured, whether business or personal, can be defined in terms of its “profitability.” If the relationship is mutually rewarding by providing benefits to each party, and both partners gain satisfaction from it, it will endure. Profitability is not found by bargain hunting or by rushing the relationship. It must be cultivated, and similar to farming, it takes patience.

We can look at every relationship we have and determine where we are in the VCP Process with that person. Remember that everything we do, every action we take, will affect our credibility – either positively or negatively, which affects the time it takes to reach the profitability phase.

Time AND Confidence

Getting to the point of profitability in a business relationship takes both time and confidence. The Time-Confidence Curve shows that whatever type of business you are in, it will take time before people have enough confidence in your ability to provide a quality product or service to know that referring other people to you will not hurt their own reputation.

In the video, you’ll see the Time-Confidence Curve by Profession where I talk about the time difference that it takes from profession to profession to reach the critical confidence level. Some professions may take less time to reach the necessary confidence, for instance – a florist may get referrals quickly. While for other professions, such as a financial planner who invests someone’s retirement money, it will take longer for people to have the required confidence to refer their friends and family to them and their services.

It IS a Process

VCP stands for Visibility, Credibility, Profitability. It is NOT a formula. It is not V + C = P. 
It is a process. You go from visibility to credibility, and from credibility to profitability.

It is important to understand the VCP Process to network effectively. It is a mindset that involves the concept of business networking being more about farming than it is about hunting. It is about developing and growing relationships with like-minded people and knowing where you are in the process, V or C or P, with each of your referral partners.

I invite you to share your thoughts about the VCP Process in the comments section.

VCP process

The Three Phases of Networking: The VCP Process®string(49) "The Three Phases of Networking: The VCP Process®"

I have written about this concept in many of my books but I’ve never done the full description here on my blog.  So – for the first time, here’s a thorough description of the three phases of networking: The VCP Process.

The key concept in referral marketing is relationships.  The system of information, support, and referrals that you assemble will be based on your relationships with other individuals and businesses.  Referral marketing works because these relationships work both ways:  they benefit both parties.

A referral marketing plan involves relationships of many different kinds.  Among the most important are those with your referral sources, with prospects these referral sources bring you, and with customers you recruit from the prospects.  These relationships don’t just spring up full grown; they must be nurtured.  As they grow, fed by mutual trust and shared benefits, they evolve through three phases:  visibility, credibility, and profitability.  We call this evolution the VCP Process®.

Any successful relationship, whether a personal or a business relationship, is unique to every pair of individuals, and it evolves over time.  It starts out tentative, fragile, full of unfulfilled possibilities and expectations.  It grows stronger with experience and familiarity.  It matures into trust and commitment.  The VCP Process describes the process of creation, growth, and strengthening of business, professional, and personal relationships; it is useful for assessing the status of a relationship and where it fits in the process of getting referrals.  It can be used to nurture the growth of an effective and rewarding relationship with a prospective friend, client, co-worker, vendor, colleague, or family member.  When fully realized, such a relationship is mutually rewarding and thus self-perpetuating.

Visibility

The first phase of growing a relationship is visibility:  you and another individual become aware of each other.  In business terms, a potential source of referrals or a potential customer becomes aware of the nature of your business – perhaps because of your public relations and advertising efforts, or perhaps through someone you both know.  This person may observe you in the act of conducting business or relating with the people around you.  The two of you begin to communicate and establish links – perhaps a question or two over the phone about product availability.  You may become personally acquainted and work on a first-name basis, but you know little about each other.  A combination of many such relationships forms a casual-contact network, a sort of de facto association based on one or more shared interests.

The visibility phase is important because it creates recognition and awareness.  The greater your visibility, the more widely known you will be, the more information you will obtain about others, the more opportunities you will be exposed to, and the greater will be your chances of being accepted by other individuals or groups as someone to whom they can or should refer business.  Visibility must be actively maintained and developed; without it, you cannot move on to the next level, credibility.

Credibility

Credibility is the quality of being reliable, worthy of confidence.  Once you and your new acquaintance begin to form expectations of each other – and the expectations are fulfilled – your relationship can enter the credibility stage.  If each person is confident of gaining satisfaction from the relationship, then it will continue to strengthen.

Credibility grows when appointments are kept, promises are acted upon, facts are verified, services are rendered.  The old saying that results speak louder than words is true.  This is very important.  Failure to live up to expectations – to keep both explicit and implicit promises – can kill a budding relationship before it breaks through the ground and can create visibility of a kind you don’t want.

To determine how credible you are, people often turn to third parties.  They ask someone they know who has known you longer, perhaps done business with you.  Will she vouch for you?  Are you honest?  Are your products and services effective?  Are you someone who can be counted on in a crunch?

Profitability

The mature relationship, whether business or personal, can be defined in terms of its “profitability.”  Is it mutually rewarding?  Do both partners gain satisfaction from it?  Does it maintain itself by providing benefits to both?  If it doesn’t profit both partners to keep it going, it probably will not endure.

The time it takes to pass through the phases of a developing relationship is highly variable.  It’s not always easy to determine when profitability has been achieved – a week?  a month?  one year?  In a time of urgent need, you and a client may proceed from visibility to credibility overnight.  The same is true of profitability; it may happen quickly, or it may take years – most likely, somewhere in between.  It depends on the frequency and quality of the contacts, and especially on the desire of both parties to move the relationship forward.

Shortsightedness can impede full development of the relationship.  Perhaps you’re a customer who has done business with a certain vendor off and on for several months, but to save pennies you keep hunting around for the lowest price, ignoring the value this vendor provides in terms of service, hours, goodwill, and reliability.  Are you really profiting from the relationship, or are you stunting its growth?  Perhaps if you gave this vendor all your business, you could work out terms that would benefit both of you.  Profitability is not found by bargain hunting.  It must be cultivated, and, like farming, it takes patience.

Visibility and credibility are important in the relationship-building stages of the referral marketing process.  But when you have established an effective referral-generation system, you will have entered the profitability stage of your relationships with many people – the people who send you referrals and the customers you recruit as a result.

 

VCP process

“Frustrated You Are Not Receiving More Referrals ” by Tiffanie Kellogstring(73) "“Frustrated You Are Not Receiving More Referrals ” by Tiffanie Kellog"

Learn about the receiving more referrals in this video.

Tiffanie Kellog, trainer for Asentiv Florida, explores the VCP process as it relates to what stage of the referral relationship you are in with others to build referral sources. #vcp

Remembering Namesstring(17) "Remembering Names"

When networking, it’s important to remember the basics of interpersonal communication–making eye contact, listening more than you speak, and of course, actually remembering people’s names.

Yeah, I’d say remembering someone’s name is high up in the list of mannerisms that will impress others in networking. It shows you pay attention to detail, you listen well and are interested in the person, not just their business.

It can be challenging to remember names, especially if you’re an avid networker. Years ago, I was told about a four-step process that will ensure you never forget your manners–and it actually works!

1. Repetition is key. When you are introduced to someone new, ask for their business card and read it carefully. Then, read the name on the card and ask them to repeat it; it will help lock the face with the name. “Hi! It’s great to meet you, Betsy Smith. It’s pronounced Betsy, yes?”

2. Use their name in conversation. When you begin a conversation, listen to what they are saying and respond by using their name; “Wow, Betsy, that sounds like an incredible opportunity! I’d love to sit down with you over lunch and talk more.” ID-10046846

3. Connect them with others and use their name in the introduction. You are networking after all, so it’s important to connect others if you can. Whe introducing two people, use their names when they first meet. “Joe, I’d like you to meet Betsy. Betsy is a realtor who just landed a big contract with the city. I bet you two would have a lot to talk about!”

4. Dedicate it to memory. Once you’ve left the networking event and you’re back at home or work, take out the business card and try and remember what that person looked like and what they were doing and saying. Maybe even send them a quick “nice to meet you” email to help you remember the conversation you had.

The next time your at a networking event, try to use these devices and see if it helps. If you can remember the devices, that is.

 

Your Business is Not an Ugly Babystring(33) "Your Business is Not an Ugly Baby"

When was the last time you heard someone say, “Wow, your baby sure is ugly!” If they’re smart, probably never.

How about this one? “Your clothing, marketing message and overall business image are not referable?” Ouch.

We occasionally think this about people we meet, but will rarely say it out loud. Which is why you are responsible for making sure your business, your “baby”, is in the right condition for receiving referrals.

I’ve seen thousands of people join networking groups and focus heavily on building their network but forget to take a good, hard look in the mirror, both at your self and image and your businesses. I’m challenging you to make an honest appraisal of yourself and your business and ask, “Am I worthy of business referrals?” If you’re not sure how to start, here are five ways to get you going.

 Five ways to help you examine your personal brand.

1. Define your Emotional Charged Connection (ECC): If you are asked seven times this week, “What do you do for a living?” do you respond with seven different answers? Your marketing message should be clear, concise and consistent; it should also tug at the heart strings a bit and have some ECC. This combination will leave a lasting impression and, most importantly, give others a clear way of explaining your message to others.

2. Walk your talk. Do what you say in less time than promised. Be on time for meetings, don’t check your phone while others are talking to you–and follow up with everyone and everything.

3. Dress for success: If you’re a mechanic and you wear a three piece suit to a business meeting, one might assume you’ve just come from court. Whatever people in your profession typically wear–uniform, polo shirt and khakis, suit and tie, dress and heels–just be sure to wear it well. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a new wardrobe, but make sure what you wear is clean, wrinkle-free and tucked in. You want to look sharp, because your first impression when you walk into a meeting is a lasting one. If you’re messy or too casual, people might assume you have the same attitude about your business. board man

4. Be self-aware: Eighty percent of someone’s perception of you are based on your nonverbal cues, including eye contact, facial expressions and mannerisms. Ask someone you trust to simulate a meeting or pitch with you and have them point out what they think is working–and what’s not.

5. Keep your social media presence professional: It’s vital to remember that your professional image exists on and offline. That’s not say you can share a funny joke or have fun on social media, but be aware that people are judging you by your online behavior. Two of every three posts should be about something personal, but don’t make controversial statements or divulge every intimate detail about your life. In this digital age, if you are what you say, you are also what you post.

Your baby is not ugly, it’s beautiful. Your business image is not ugly, it’s also beautiful and worthy of referrals. But nothing else will matter unless our personal brand and referability are in order. After all, we are our biggest advertisement.

Networking for Millennials, by a Millennialstring(43) "Networking for Millennials, by a Millennial"

This article is from guest blogger and BNI Executive Director Dana Gallagher.

For the first time in American history, three generations – Baby Boomers, Generation X, and Millennials – all with different work ethics, values, beliefs and experiences are working side-by side.  One generation stands out from the rest because they have become the largest generation in the workforce.  Who are they?  You guessed it… Millennials!

Let’s take a step back. What is a Millennial?  This term refers to the generations born between 1982 and the early 2000’s.  Born in the year 1990, I am proud to say that I, myself am a Millennial.  In this article I will be focusing on how my generation does business, communicates, and networks.

Face-to-face networking will never go out of style.  This leads me to a common misconception; that millennials would rather network with one another via social media than face-to-face. All of my experiences, and everyone I know, have shown this to be the exact opposite. If we had a choice of either type of networking the answer would be face-to-face every time, hands down.  Human interaction is one of the most powerful ways to network and connect with others.

With that being said, getting out to networking events every night and seeing people isn’t always an option.  Lucky for us, we have other means of building relationships when we are unable to meet face-to-face.  So what are some of the other ways we network and how does our different generational attributes effect the way we communicate?

Communication Style:

On a daily basis, I communicate with people approximately ten different ways.  The most common ways are text messaging, group text messages, phone calls, e-mail, Facebook, Facebook group pages, Facebook Messenger, SnapChat, FaceTime, and LinkedIn.  Many other millennials use apps, like GroupMe, Voxer, Twitter, Skype, and Kik as a means to meet and connect with other people.  Wait a minute, why do Millennials choose to use all these ways to communicate?  Simply put, it’s quick, easy, and switching tasks helps hold our interest.

While referring to our communication style, informality is key.  For the most part we find it completely acceptable to reach out to other business associates, bosses, and acquaintances via text, LinkedIn, Facebook messenger, Google hangouts, or whatever else.  As long as we get in touch with the person we need, why does it matter how we do so?
Building Relationships:

After meeting someone at a networking event, wedding, back yard barbecue, or any other get-together, we will most likely friend them on Facebook, add them on SnapChat, follow them on Instagram, connect with them on LinkedIn, or all of the above.  By having so many resources to connect with each other we are able to build relationships faster (from the mass amounts of information online) and keep our relationships longer because of the ease of staying in touch.  I may not see you for two years but I know you have become engaged, bought a house, went on vacation, and adopted a new dog, all because you friended me on Facebook.  In short, it’s easier for millennials to establish long term relationships.

Team Oriented:

We are a generation that prefers to socialize and work in groups because we grew up in an environment that promoted constant team work.  On a daily basis, our school teachers would have us work in groups to accomplish assignments.  When everyone played their part, we learned that by working together we can achieve more, create a better result, and have fun!  Our grade school teaching style fostered the belief that collaboration is the most effective way to get a job done.

One of the reasons that BNI is so great for millennials is that it accomplishes two things at once.  We are able to socialize in a group setting while also building a network of people who can help accomplish one another’s goals by working together as a team.  There is no better support system for a young entrepreneur or business professional than a group of entrepreneurs, professionals, and field experts that can share their best practices and learn together.

Business Focus:

Our generation is pursuing careers for more than a paycheck and rejecting the old school mentality of the more you work, the more you’re worth.  We believe that success is based on efficiency and results, rather than long hours and harder work.  By completing our work quicker, we are able to get more accomplished throughout the day and fulfill our desire to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The focus on a healthy work-life balance has caused a change in the beginning stages of networking.  Rather than the typical conversation starter, “Tell me about your business,” you are more likely to hear millennials start a conversation off with, “What do you like to do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” Why is that? Well, we’re pickier about the people with whom we do business. Millennials prefer to work alongside people whose values and interests align with their own.

Of course, it goes almost without saying that every person is an individual, so keep in mind that some of the characteristics we’ve discussed may not be applicable to every millennial. However, the information in this article refers to the millennial generation as a whole and the common trends that will help you to network and better communicate with them in professional circles.

 

 

Premature Solicitor

Why Successful Networking is All About You…Kind Ofstring(56) "Why Successful Networking is All About You…Kind Of"

This is the first in a two part series.

Do you find yourself a networking event, standing alone awkwardly and wondering why you can’t hold a conversation? Do you wonder why others don’t seem interested in talking to you, while those around you are conversing easily and often? You wore the right thing, you have a drink in your hand and clearly you have no one to talk to–so why aren’t people lined around the corner to speak to you?

I hate to be the one to say it, but it has to be said–it might be you. Not the inherent you, not your personality or your reputation; but your body language and behavior can turn a stranger into a referral partner or into just another body in the room. If you want to make this networking thing happen, you have to know–

Are you approachable or alienating?

Here’s how to know if you are APPROACHABLE:

1. Positive Attitude: You smile, laugh and look like you are a pleasant person to talk to. Although this seems ridiculously simple, you’d be surprised how many people don’t realize their frowning or looking bored in conversation. Go look in the mirror and watch how your face changes when you frown and when you smile–you’ll see what a difference it makes!

2. Open Body Language: In the book Networking Like a Pro, I talk about positioning when a person is conversing with others. Instead of talking to someone in a one-on-one conversation, standing closely together with your shoulders facing squarely at one another, make sure your stance allows the room for someone else to approach and join in.

3.Congruence: Conduct yourself as if every person you meet is the host of the event, going above and beyond to make them feel good. Don’t over compliment or lay on the schmooze, but do make a point to encourage others in conversation and seem genuinely interested in them and their business.

 

Next week: Are you alienating?

 

 

 

GAINing a Trusted Relationshipstring(30) "GAINing a Trusted Relationship"

I’ve been thinking about the concept of trust lately. Given all that’s happening around the world, with the constant influx of distressing news, it’s hard to know what information to trust, or who to trust, or even where to place our trust.

In networking, trust is a major factoring in giving and receiving referrals– remember, it’s not what you know or who you know, but how well you know each other that counts. In this fast-paced, digital, 140-character age we live in, having an actual conversation with an actual person can feel daunting (and sometimes, we notice that we’ve forgotten how to do it.)

On that note, I wanted to take a moment a reflect on a fundamental of networking, and a fantastic way to start to earn trust–the GAINS exchange. When you have a 1-2-1 with someone you’ve networked with, it’s important to begin to build the foundation of the relationship in an effective, time efficient way. GAINS is the perfect way to do that.

The ice breaker goes as follows: Goals, Achievements, Interests, Networks and Skills. Whether these are professional or personal answers (or possibly both) it’ll help the conversation flow easily and begin to build that foundation of trust.

The first time you introduce the ice breaker, it can feel a little awkward; but the more you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be with it. Begin practicing the exchange with someone you’re comfortable with–you might be surprised at their answers!

Take some time to write down your answers, and really reflect on it. You might even learn something new about yourself.

 

Which Networking Style Are You?string(31) "Which Networking Style Are You?"

This is the fifth and final video in the “Ivanism” Garage to Global series, hosted by Entrepreneur.com. In this series, I expand on common phrases I’ve used throughout my 31 years of referral-based networking.

When you’re at a networking event, do you eagerly bounce around the room, chatting with various people and passing out business cards? Do you tend to seek deep connections by only talking to a few people for longer periods? Everyone has their own way of making connections and networking, and it helps to understand just where you fall in the lineup.

Knowing your networking behavioral style will help you capitalize on your skills–and maybe even identify some flaws to improve upon. Take a look at the video below to find out YOUR style and maybe the next time you’re at an event, you’ll be able to better position yourself for greater success.

 

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