Five Tips for Traveling Abroad on Businessstring(42) "Five Tips for Traveling Abroad on Business"

My lovely wife Beth and I immersing ourselves in the local culture while visiting Vietnam last summer.

I’m extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel extensively for both business and pleasure. Over the years, I’ve accumulated numerous tips to help aid overseas business travel.

What many businesspeople fail to realize about business work abroad is that is comes with a unique set of challenges. While business travel in your home country requires a certain level of planning and organization, international travel is a whole other ballpark.

No matter where you are going for business, your itinerary is your best friend. This is even more the case in a foreign country. You will undoubtedly want to spend some time visiting landmarks and taking in the culture of the area. By planning your trip in advance and scheduling in time to complete all of the work you need to do, you can fit in time to relax, see the sights, and enjoy yourself.

What kinds of customs do people in other cultures have that you could easily offend? For example, in many cultures, Japanese and Indian included, it is customary to spend a lot of time reading someone’s business card when they hand it to you – just taking it and slipping it in your pocket immediately is inappropriate.

In the same vein, be very conscious of your body language. Things that you do all the time may have completely different connotations in other cultures. Even handshakes might mean something different in other cultures, as for some it is customary to bow instead.

Learn a few key phrases in the native language of the country if you aren’t already fluent, as well. Business associates will appreciate any honest attempt you make at communicating with them in their native language.

While a little more obvious, check into your paperwork a few months in advance to when you leave. Some countries won’t accept your passport if it is nearing expiration, for example. Do you need a visa for your trip? These are things that you won’t want to leave to the last minute, as they will surely provide unneeded (or wanted) stress.

What are your top tips for traveling abroad for business? Let me know in the comments below!

Why You Shouldn’t Always Follow the Golden Rulestring(49) "Why You Shouldn’t Always Follow the Golden Rule"

ID-10040850What I’m about to tell you will seem counter-intuitive at first, but bear with me.

The Golden Rule is not the best way to ensure success in referral marketing. For those unfamiliar with this philosophy, it is commonly known as “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” While it is a good principle to live by, a great one even, this doesn’t help you in networking or referral marketing.

Instead, you should consider implementing the Platinum Rule in your networking efforts. This, put simply, is treating others the way they would like to be treated. Referral marketing is closely linked with relationships, and what better way to develop a relationship than adjusting how you treat someone to their wants and needs?

There are three people involved in a referral: You, the referral source, and the prospective referral. All three of these people come into play when you consider how to implement the Platinum Rule.

You. How do you work best? What are your strengths and weaknesses?

The referral source. How does the person communicate best, or like to be communicated with? How do they like to be treated? If you expect someone to pass a referral to you, you must communicate with them in a way that they appreciate and in a way that works well for them.

The prospect. How does the prospect like to be communicated with? What sales tactics work on the prospect? If you expect to close on the referral passed to you, you must be willing and able to communicate effectively with the prospect.

In the end, a networker’s greatest asset is their ability to be adaptable. You must always be willing to accommodate the people you are striving to develop relationships with – your comfort is not nearly as important as theirs.

What is an example of the Platinum Rule at work in your relationships? Let me know in the comments below.

Can You Quantify How You Strengthen Your Network?string(49) "Can You Quantify How You Strengthen Your Network?"

connectionsHow are you tracking your business success? You’re probably not, which is fine, but can make it extremely difficult to not only expect, but quantify, growth and success. You’d be surprised the number of businesspeople I talk to from all industries who say they want to grow their business, but when I ask by how much, they simply stare at me. Even worse are the stares I get when I ask what they have actively done to grow your business.

You cannot expect change and growth without actively working to strength your network and business. It simply won’t happen.

Most people can name specific things they do to improve their skill at a hobby they are passionate about, but so rarely is that passion carried over into their own business. Below is a list of quantifiable things you can do to strength your network, improve relationships with referral partners, and ultimately help foster the growth of your business.

How many can you check off? Let me know in the comments!

  • Send a Thank You card – but make sure it is handwritten!
  • Call to check in
  • Arrange a 1-to-1
  • Offer a referral to someone without them having to ask for one
  • Include them in a regular newsletter for your company
  • Send an article of interest to your contact
  • Set up a group activity to bring together your networks
  • Attend a networking event (and bring someone with you!)
  • Display your partner’s brochure or flyer at your business

You should aim to do one to two of these things a week to consistently be developing your relationships with your network. And, of course, there are plenty of things you could do that aren’t on this list. What could you add?

Talking on Givers Gain, Passions, and Familystring(44) "Talking on Givers Gain, Passions, and Family"

I have been interviewed by countless reporters, blog authors, and more. Usually once you hit the “dozen books published” line, they assume you have a thing or two to say. With all of those interviews, you’d think I’d run out of things to say. In actuality, I’ve found that the energy of the person interviewing me really comes into play and helps make each conversation unique.

Below are a few clips from a recent talk I did with Cordelia Henry of the Referral Institute. We cover a wide spectrum of topics, which I always love because it gives plenty of variety.

On Givers Gain:

On Working in Your Flame:

On Family:

On the Greatest Referral I Ever Got:

Thanks Cordelia, for the wonderful conversation!

Network with Forward Momentum Using International Networking Weekstring(65) "Network with Forward Momentum Using International Networking Week"

INW-LogoIf you’re like many businesspeople, you may have made a New Years resolution to expand your contact base. If you’re like the majority of people who make resolutions, you’ve likely already hit a road block. For those with a resolution to expand your network, don’t lose your enthusiasm.

International Networking Week 2016 starts today, and this is a great opportunity to jump start your expanded network. For this ninth annual International Networking Week, we’ve encouraged business professionals to invite the younger generation of businesspeople to their networking events, and to host additional events in honor of this initiative.

No matter how you plan to participate in International Networking Week, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Introduce new people to the group. If you’ve invited a visitor to your event or regular networking meeting, make sure you introduce them to the rest of the group. It’s common courtesy to make sure a guest you invited feels welcome in the group.
  • Bring plenty of business cards. International Networking Week is not the time to be stingy with the business cards! You never know how many people you may meet, and who you will end up building a connection with.
  • Never stop your networking push. International Networking Week is a great annual excuse to meet new business professionals, but when the week ends you should still be sharpening your skills. Networking happens 365 days a year, not just the first week of February.

How are you spending International Networking Week? Let me know in the comments below!

Building Up Your Power Teamstring(27) "Building Up Your Power Team"

ID-100223937How do you increase the number of referrals your networking contacts are helping pass to you? One way, of course, is to educate your contacts on how to best get referrals for you. Another easy way to increase your number of referrals is to create relationships with people who, based on their professions, are most likely to pass quality referrals to you. These ideal referral partners are broken up into two groups: Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

The difference between the two is minor, yet impactful. Your Contact Sphere is all the possible professions you can team up with, while your Power Team is the group that you have actually teamed up with. Often times, these groups will be made up of professions that work together symbiotically, and are naturally inclined to refer business to one another. Think somewhat related, but non-competing, businesses.

To build your Power Team, you’ll want to take some time and map out your ideal Contact Sphere. What professions could you work well with, if only you knew someone who worked in that field?

Once you’ve built your Power Team, your work isn’t done. You must always be looking for ways to pass a referral to your Power Team. Over time, you’ll develop trust and your Power Team partners will pass significantly more referrals to you.

Additionally, one thing that I have seen work well for Power Teams is a weekly meeting, or at a minimum every other week. These meetings should be outside of your regular networking events, and should be smaller, more intimate gatherings with your Power Team. To keep your meetings running smoothly, have a chairperson to lead discussion. Each member of the Power Team should discuss their ideal referral, and perhaps dedicate some time to brainstorming places to find these referrals. As a group, you may also discuss potential other professions who would fit well in your Power Team.

Common mistakes I’ve seen with Power Teams include:

  • Confusing them for Contact Spheres. Contact Spheres are a broad list of professions that could work well with you, while your Power Team is only those that you are actively working with.
  • Not dedicating time to them. Just forming a Power Team will not build up referrals for you. Like with any other relationship, you need to build up trust, learn the wants and needs of the other members of the team, and establish best ways to help everyone in the group meet their business goals.
  • Not building the right team. If you have someone in your Power Team who isn’t passing referrals to you, whether that be because they are having your services done in house or any other reason, they shouldn’t be in your Power Team. While you may not be able to avoid having them in your networking group, you are able to partner with someone outside of your group. There is nothing wrong with having multiple networks.

Never Stop Educating Yourselfstring(29) "Never Stop Educating Yourself"

ID-10041080I’m a huge believer in the value of continued education. No one is ever at a point where they can stop educating themselves, and if you do stop, you’ll surely fall behind in your field.

We can’t always be enrolled in a higher education course, though, so what is the most logical way to continue educating yourself well into your professional life? While the best way to learn indefinitely depends on your lifestyle, your specific field, and your learning style, here are my three favorite ways to keep on top of new (and old!) developments in business.

Read articles and books. Thought leaders are always writing articles and books about their fields, sharing their perspectives on the ins and outs of their specialties. While these pieces will always have some degree of opinion in them, and you won’t always agree with everything you read, well written articles and books will get you thinking, get you interested, and leave you wanting to do your own follow up research.

Attend conferences. When you attend a conference and you listen to the keynote speaker, if those in charge of organizing the event did their job, the speaker not only taught you a little something, but got you fired up to go out and learn more. Not only is the keynote speaker a great source of continued education at conferences, smaller sessions and even other attendees can help get your gears turning, and teach you something you didn’t know before.

Practice practice practice. You probably haven’t reached the point where you can do anything perfectly every time, and even if you have, going without practice can cause you to lose your skill. How can you get better at something if you don’t do it? What’s more, talk to colleagues, people you respect in your field, or consult the internet for new techniques as you’re practicing. If you keep practicing something the wrong way, you’ll get really good at doing it wrong. If you practice something in new and different ways, you’ll be more likely to round out that skill level.

How do you continue your education? Let me know in the comments below!

Tips and Tools of the Trade…Showstring(38) "Tips and Tools of the Trade…Show"

For most business professionals, a trade show in your field is a great opportunity to get out and meet other professionals who own or work for businesses similar to yours. Here, you can garner new ideas to bring home with you and make your business better, receive valuable feedback on what you’re currently doing from other professionals, and possibly develop relationships and connections with people who may help you grow your business as part of a Power Team.

ID-10069835While trade shows can be extremely beneficial, they can only really help you if you go into it prepared and ready to grow. As the new year began, many organizations begin promoting their 2016 trade shows, and I’m sure countless of you have already registered for one, if not multiple.

Before you go, consider some of these do’s and don’ts to get the most out of your trade show experience.

DO research the multiple trade shows happening in your field for the year before making the final decision on which to attend. While you can attend more than one, you should only attend as many as will benefit you. Talk to contacts whom you know have attended a specific trade show in the past to get their feedback, do a quick Google search, and always read all of the promotional brochures you can get your hands on. 

DON’T go to the trade show without a specific goal in mind. Want to meet someone who can give you advise on using social media to hit your target market? Looking to build a relationship with someone who has been in the field 20 years longer than you have? Going in with a specific goal can go a long way.

DO become familiar with the layout of the space that the trade show will be in. You can identify quickly if there are certain booths you’d like to make sure you hit, and perhaps even mold your own booth to fit in (or better, stand out) from those positioned near you.

DON’T just hang out by one booth, or if you’re working the show, your booth. You can’t expect your potential contacts to come to you. We never expect this in our day-to-day business, so why would we expect this at a business convention with hundreds of busy professionals, all with their own businesses and goals in mind?

DO make sure you get to as many seminars that make sense for you, and attend group activities. You’re there to make contacts and get to know others in your field, or in the fields represented at the trade show. Don’t waste your time at the show by not circulating and getting to know people.

DON’T forget the follow up! Meeting someone in the first place is only have the battle. You have to actually follow up with them after that initial introduction to really begin to establish a meaningful relationship.

DO go into the trade show with an open mind, and a willingness to both learn and teach.

Are you planning to attend any trade shows this year? What are your goals for them? Share with me in the comments below!

Stranger Danger? Not in Networking!string(35) "Stranger Danger? Not in Networking!"

Why do people hate networking events? There are a few common reasons, but one that I have heard time and time again is an anxiety about introducing yourself to new contacts. I’m sure you’re familiar with the feeling of nerves as you meet new people and try to strike up a conversation. There are a few small things I think you should include in your introduction with new people that could help take the edge off.

  • ID-100356039Don’t forget your name and your business! Because, yes, believe it or not this happens. I was at a networking event a few years ago, and someone came up to me. We spoke for a few minutes about their business and their experience using referral networking before they had to excuse themselves. It was then that I realized that I had never gotten their name, despite the fact that they knew mine. If your goal is to introduce yourself to a new contact and leave a lasting impression, definitely make sure you give your name.
  • Find common ground. Finding something about your new contact that you can relate to is among the best ways to quickly develop the start of a relationship. This also will alleviate the pressure of your conversation with someone new, as it’ll spark topics you both can relate to and talk about.
  • Be memorable. If you can stand out from the crowd and make yourself unforgettable (in a positive way!), you’re more likely to really develop relationships. This is most effective when done when you are one-on-one with someone, and not in a group. Be sure to read the person, and use a quirk about yourself, your business, etc., that can resonate with the specific person. This one requires a bit of social intelligence, but when done right is highly effective.
  • Ask questions about the other person. People love to talk about themselves and their business. Everyone has an easy time talking about things they know well, and what do people know better than themselves? Not only will this allow the other person to take the lead on the conversation in a positive way, it helps you learn about the other person. The caveat here is to make sure you are asking genuine questions. Asking nonsense questions just to keep asking questions is transparent, and will negatively impact how you are perceived.

How do you handle meeting someone new at networking events? Let me know in the comments below!

So You Want to Network Up?string(26) "So You Want to Network Up?"

Earlier this week, I appeared on Copy Chief with Kevin Rogers as a special guest to talk all about referral marketing. If you missed it, you can check out the whole podcast here, but today I would like to specifically elaborate on one segment from the podcast.

tam-48-ivan-misner-copy-chief

Around the 20-minute mark, I tell a story about a man named Mark who invested a lot of time and energy to develop our relationship. By the time he turned around and asked me for a favor, a least a year after we had met and begun our relationship, I was so appreciative of everything he had done for me that I was willing to do whatever favor he asked for.

You need to be interested, not interesting. People don’t want you to sell to them, they want you to be interested in investing in them. If you’re networking up, or trying to network with someone very successful, you need to find a way to stand out. You need to make that powerful person want to help you, by expecting nothing in return.

So how do you do that? It isn’t one of those things that you can just do overnight, or wake up one day and decide you’re going to develop a relationship with someone.

First and foremost, you have to have an idea. A great idea. An idea that you can implement and it will positively impact the person you hope to build a relationship with. Something helpful, something that that person cannot do themselves. This idea should set you apart, and should be unique to both you, and to your future contact.

Once you have developed your idea – and I mean fully developed; you can’t go to someone with a half-baked plan in your head – you need to reach out to the person that your idea benefits. Handwritten notes can make you stand apart. Emails and social media messages can work, but often will not help you stand apart, and depending on the person they may not be managing their own accounts. A well thought out handwritten note may be your best bet.

From there, your strategy relies strongly on your idea and the person you are working to help. To hear me discuss some other related topics, check out the podcast with Kevin Rogers on Copy Chief here.

The Power to Get Things Donestring(28) "The Power to Get Things Done"

thepowerHow often do you hit a slump in productivity? Worse, how often do you know what you should be doing, but then fail to do it regardless? It happens to the best of us, but the good news is that this is entirely avoidable.

Steve Levinson, PhD, and Chris Cooper recently released a book titled The Power to Get Things Done, and in it, they tackle how to turn your good intentions into actions and ultimately results.

This is one of those books that I stand behind, because I really believe that strong businesspeople can benefit from the tools to help follow through. As I said in my foreword for the book, the ability to turn good intentions into action is one of the most valuable assets that anyone who is serious about achieving their goals can have.

For me, the most impactful tips of the book are the keys to maintaining follow-through mastery. Everyone has done it at least once – you work hard to perfect your ability with something, you reach a level where you are satisfied, and then immediately stop practicing because you reached what you saw as the pinnacle. The thing with skills, though, is that you lose your ability when you stop practicing, or striving for better. What this book teaches is to always have goals in mind, and to always strive for your goals – both valuable suggestions to all business professionals.

The Power to Get Things Done was recently released and is available on Kindle or in paperback.

What goals do you consistently set for yourself to help keep your productivity up? Share with me in the comments below!

The Pieces of Successstring(21) "The Pieces of Success"

ID-10028822As so many of us launch into spectacular plans for the new year, whether those impact our businesses or our personal lives, there are a few things to remember when to comes to gauging the success of those plans. To truly be successful is to be in it for the long haul.

For the most part, your success is determined by your hard word, and by your choices. You can work harder than anyone you know, but if at the end of the day you make the wrong decisions, you will never achieve the success you want. So many people think that they deserve to be successful just because they work hard, but this is not the case. Hard work is simply a piece of the puzzle.

Many hard working people claim that they have “bad luck” when things turn sour, despite their efforts. In reality, it is poor choices that ultimately lead many of these people to why their hard work isn’t leading to success. This isn’t to say that every choice you make has to be a good one – to hold yourself to such a standard would be to set yourself up for failure. Instead, you need to make more good choices than bad ones, and minimize the impact of the bad choices by accepting them and fixing it quickly.

Becoming successful takes time and effort, and unfortunately many people want to get from point A to point Z without all of the challenges, lessons, and milestones in between. You cannot work hard and immediately expect the success that you think you deserve. Success is not an entitlement, no matter how badly we want it to be one.

I’ve said before that working hard is only the first part of success. Making good choices is the second part. It takes both to achieve success.

How do you motivate yourself toward long term success? Share with me in the comments below!

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