Business Growth During Economic Challengesstring(42) "Business Growth During Economic Challenges"

When the economy is slow, new business is harder to get. What can I do to build my business in a challenging economy?

I’ve heard this question many times over the years. The fact is that every economy goes through cycles, and business slows down for some people. My recommendation is – don’t join the ranks of miserable complainers. Use the time to improve your networking skills.

If you want to do well and have business growth during economic challenges, understand that is does absolutely no good to complain to people about how tough things are. When you complain about how bad business is, half the people that you tell don’t care, and the other half are glad you are worse off than they are.

Six Ways to Improve Networking Skills

  1.   Diversify your business network. If your network is a mile wide but only an inch deep, it is too shallow. You need to have networks that are broad and deep. Business networking groups such as BNI® are the deep part of that; they are where you build strong, mutually beneficial business relationships. You also want to participate in your local Chamber of Commerce & Industry, as well as in other professional organizations.
  2.   Refuse to be a cave-dweller. Get out there and meet people at business events, especially during a slow economy. Go to networking events with a positive attitude and decide that you refuse to participate in a recession or in any negativity. Learn how to work the network meetings that you attend and put forth the effort to do so. It is not called net-sit or net-eat. It is called network.
  3.   Learn networking systems and techniques that apply to the different organizations to which you belong. Focus your efforts on educating others about our business rather than trying to make a sale. Have a Givers Gain® attitude by asking how you can help others before asking them for referrals.  
  4.   Be prepared. Before a meeting, prepare effective introductions and presentations to share with your fellow members. Find ways to use whatever is going on in the economy as a way of marketing. Make it positive for your business, not negative.
  5.   Develop your contact spheres. A group of business professionals who have a symbiotic, noncompetitive business relationship with you are more important than ever. A referral to one person in the group is often a referral to many because each member of the contact sphere has products or services that the client can benefit from.
  6.   Establish a goal and reverse-engineer it. Know what you want to accomplish and share your goal with your networking group. Do the G.A.I.N.S. exchange with your referral partners. G.A.I.N.S. is from my book Business by Referral; it stands for Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks and Skills.  

Your Network is Your Advantage

When you are part of a trusted network that you have established over time, and consistently participate in a positive way, you develop a huge advantage over the competition. You are building your business through networking, through referrals, through word-of-mouth. Your competition is just going to have to rely on increased advertising, while you have a powerful network to draw upon. If the times are tough around you, look for opportunities to market and use your network as the vehicle to do that. Be creative about working with your business network.

I have seen thousands of businesspeople grow and prosper during economic challenges because they developed their networking skills and learned to build their business through word-of-mouth marketing.

Don’t let a slow economy be your excuse for failure. Instead, make it an opportunity to succeed. It is not what you know or who you know. It’s how well you know them that really counts. In a tough economy, it is your social capital that has value. Make good use of it. While others may struggle, you can thrive.

You can’t control the economy. You can’t control the competition. You CAN control your response to any situation. Referrals can keep your business alive and strong, even during economic challenges.

five least important skills

Five Mistakes To Make When Networkingstring(37) "Five Mistakes To Make When Networking"

In this video, I share the five least important skills for networking according to a survey of 3400 business people. Knowing what not to do can be as important as knowing what to do. Furthermore, it is also clear from these results that great networkers and great salespeople have different skill sets.

In conclusion, many people think you need to be an extrovert to be a good networker, but that’s not what the survey says. Here are five least important skills for networking.

You don’t need to be:

  1. Fearless
  2. A salesperson
  3. A self-promoter
  4. Direct
  5. Social media savvy

That’s right: social media skills are not an indicator of great networking ability. The under-30 crowd ranked social media savvy second-to-last instead of last. It’s also clear from these results that great networkers and great salespeople have different skill sets.

So if you want to be a great networker, understand the five least important skills to be a great networker because you may be doing things in terms of being very direct and being fearless and asking for the sale, these kinds of things that actually may not serve you in the way that you hoped that they would serve you. The combination of knowing what to do as well as what not to do, I think, will help you to network like a pro.

Want More Referrals?–Build Your Networking Skillsetstring(57) "Want More Referrals?–Build Your Networking Skillset"

So many times, I hear of people joining networking groups and then becoming disillusioned because the referrals don’t immediately start pouring in. The fact is, whatever you pay to join a referral/networking group is only an admission price–it gets you into the room where opportunities may come your way, but it doesn’t entitle you to referrals. It’s not enough to simply show up and participate. You must perform to make the most of these opportunities and new contacts.

(Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

(Image courtesy of suphakit73 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

Despite the built-in structure and focus on referrals, a strong-contact group member can fail to generate referrals or to receive referrals for himself or herself. Networking skills are the number one requirement for generating more referrals. Being in the setting of a networking group simply makes it easier to use these skills. Simply being a member of a strong-contact group does not entitle you to expect or receive referrals. Nor does being a member of a casual-contact group limit the number of referrals you can generate or receive, if you have the skills and use them.

Develop the skills of a master networker by constantly looking for ways to help or benefit your networking partners and earning a reputation as someone who can get things done, no matter what the organization or situation. For example, one extremely savvy and successful networker I know records the names and cell phone numbers of every member of her networking group, and when new members join, she adds them to her “tele-rolodex” immediately. She has found that she has a better chance of seeing closed business between her contact and the person to whom she makes the referral when she can introduce them immediately–right when she learns her contact’s needs.

For more information on developing the networking skills that will help you make the most of your networking opportunities, click here. For even more on networking skills, click here.

International Networking Week 2018®

Welcome to International Networking Week!string(41) "Welcome to International Networking Week!"

This week marks the 7th annual celebration of International Networking Week which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe through .  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach. If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb. 4-8).

CLICK HERE to view a short video about International Networking Week 2013.  Please feel free to share the video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?   Please share your plans in the comment forum below.

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.

The Three Laws of Notable Networkingstring(36) "The Three Laws of Notable Networking"

Over the last few decades, I’ve met individuals who have developed such incredible networking skills that they get almost 100 percent of their business through referrals.  They’ve been successful at building a word-of-mouth-based business because they’re as committed to giving referrals as they are to following up on the referrals they get.  What does it take to achieve results like these?

There are three requirements or laws for becoming a Notable (or effective) Networker.  Without applying these laws, you would find it impossible to work your networks effectively.

At face value the laws seem simple, but don’t let first impressions deceive you.  Behind these simple-sounding principles lies a comprehensive set of requirements and obligations.  If you don’t heed these laws, you will invest many hours and some dollars into networking groups but get a poor return on your investment.

The Three Laws of Notable Networking Are:

  1. Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude
  2. Learn How to Use Networking Tools Effectively
  3. Networking Is an Acquired Skill

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be going into detail about each of the above laws so be sure to come back to learn more about how you can become a truly Notable Networker and get optimum results from all of your networking efforts and investments.

Also, if you have a story about how you’ve used one or more of the above laws to achieve success in networking, please share it in the comments section below so we can all learn from your successes.  Thanks!

Survey Says: Summarized Conclusions about Business Networking & Genderstring(75) "Survey Says: Summarized Conclusions about Business Networking & Gender"

What have my co-authors and I concluded after 12,000 individual surveys, almost 1,000 comments and stories, numerous interviews, months of research, and years of experience?  Below is a recap of the facts we uncovered.

Study Findings, Summarized

  • 91.4% of the respondents said that “networking has played a role in their success.”
  • Men and women were closer together than we expected in most areas.
  • However, the perception of the difference is very dramatic.  Remember: The exception becomes the perception.
  • Women feel that networking has played a slightly larger role in their success than men.
  • Women use a much wider variety of techniques to learn their networking skills than men do.
  • Men are more likely to focus on business first than women are.  Women are a little more likely to focus on building the relationship first–then the business.
  • The time of day for networking was not a big issue for either gender.  This was a surprise to us.
  • Family obligations were more of a problem for women.
  • Women definitely did not feel as safe as men in attending evening events.
  • Men preferred either a structured or unstructured networking event.  Women felt okay with either.
  • Both men and women felt that other people were more uncomfortable networking than they felt about it themselves.
  • Men felt stronger about transactional aspects of networking.  Women felt stronger about relational aspects of networking.
  • Men spent a little more time networking.
  • Women received a higher percentage of their business from networking than men.
  • The more time either men or women spent in their networking efforts, the higher the percentage of business they generated.
  • The more often people used systems to track their business from networking, the more likely they were to feel that networking played a role in their success.

Men and women are not so different in the success they desire in business and networking.  However, the process, the mindset, and the way of making the results happen are very different.  The reason is that we have different ways of viewing the world.  Some of this comes from nature and some from nurture.  What it means is that if we want to be more effective, we must learn how to respect, appreciate, and embrace one another’s differences.  We must understand that we can work more effectively together as a team in business and in our networks.  We just need to learn to be adaptable, empathetic, sensitive, and understanding that THEY are not you.

You can and will beat the odds.  The exception doesn’t have to become the perception.  It can be you! 

Come back next week for some advice from the whole team of Business Networking and Sex co-authors–these tips will help you achieve your highest potential when it comes to networking and guide you into your brightest future in referral marketing.