Networking Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Social Capital

Build Social Capital by Networking

Social capital, otherwise known as the value behind your social contacts, can be an extremely important resource in both business and life.  If you take as much care in raising and investing your social capital as you do your financial capital, you will experience benefits that can greatly enrich your life as well as multiply your material returns many times over. Investing in your networking is one of the best investments you can make to secure future success for yourself and others with whom you network. Below, I share my 4 step process to build your social capital, the international currency of networking.

Social Capital

This is acquired through networking because successful networking is all about building and maintaining solid, professional relationships. The trouble is we don’t have the natural community-like business relationships that existed before. Many business owners hardly know their neighbors, let alone the local businesspeople in town. Therefore, networking is critical to an individual’s success in business.

Effectively developing your networking can be a daunting task. However, doing so within a structured, organized networking framework will leverage your efforts. You begin building your capital to positively impact your bottom line.

Here are some keys to creating social capital

  • Give your clients a personal call
  • Call all the people who have referred business to you
  • List 50 people to stay in touch with
  • Follow up with everyone

As you invest your time in developing your networking, you are increasing your bottom line. Strive to make the most effective use of this investment. Do everything possible to thoroughly enhance the relationships you develop in the coming year because social capital leads to improved financial capital.

Watch the video and then take a minute to leave a comment below. I would love to hear your story about how investing in your social capital significantly paid off for you.

Business Networking Diversity

Business Networking Diversity

I believe that it is important to build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people with different interests and backgrounds.  The only thing that they should have in common with you is that they should be really good at what they do.  Create a personal network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.

It is human nature to build friendships with people that are like us.  The problem with surrounding ourselves with similar people is that they also tend to have similar contacts and know the same people as us.  When networking, it may be difficult to make connections with new people or companies with whom we desire to do business. In running a large business networking organization for over the past three decades, I often speak to people who tell me they want to network exclusively business professionals who have similar clients.  Although it is good to include these people in your personal network, networking with them exclusively would be a tremendous mistake. When it comes to business networking diversity, you never know who people know.  One of the important keys to being successful at building a powerful personal network is diversity.

A diverse personal network enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors or “linchpins” in your network.  Linchpins are people who in some way cross over between two or more clusters or groups of individuals; this allows them to link groups of people together easily.  The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network. The strongest networking groups I have seen over the years are generally the groups that are diverse.  I believe that one of the problems in understanding this concept is a somewhat built-in bias that many people have about networking with individuals that are outside their normal frame of reference.  Let me share a story:

An incredible voice, an incredible connection from networking diversity.

Patti, a BNI Director, arrived a little early to a BNI meeting that met in a private meeting room and noticed an older gentleman setting up coffee mugs in preparation for the meeting.  She struck up a conversation with the man while waiting for the BNI members to arrive.  In talking to him, she was really taken by the amazing tenor of his voice.  She mentioned to him that he had an incredible voice and asked what he did before this.  The gentleman informed her that he used to be a commentator for CNN!  He went on to share with Patti that in his later years, he wanted to work in a less hectic job as well as live closer to his daughter.  He decided to take on the job of managing these private meeting rooms because it gave him an opportunity to be close to his family while having a less hectic career later in life.

Later during the meeting, one of the BNI members, Don, mentioned in his featured presentation that his goal is to host a radio talk show someday. He was looking for some contacts that could help him pursue this dream.  After the meeting, Patti asked Don… “Do you see that guy over there (pointing to the ex-CNN commentator)?  Have you seen him before?”  “Yea,” said Don, “he’s the guy who sets up the coffee for our meeting.”  Patti said to Don, “Did you know that he used to be a broadcaster for CNN?”  Don said, “I had no idea!!!”  Patti suggested that Don introduce himself. Don had seen the man on many occasions but had not struck up a conversation with him because he felt that they had little, if anything, in common.  The truth is when it comes to networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connector for you to a whole world of people that you might not otherwise be able to meet. This resulted in creating an incredible connection for Don in the broadcasting industry. Don now hosts a local radio talk show.

Diversity in your network is the smart thing and the right thing to do.

NETWORKS AREN’T FLAT: The Seven Stages of Professional Relationships by Andy Lopata

Today’s guest blog is an extract from Andy Lopata’s book, “Connected Leadership”, about the seven stages of professional relationships.

When we picture a network it’s easy to visualize a flat entity, a single structure comprising all of the people we know. Much network theory focuses on the number of people in the average network, with classic studies such as Girard’s Law of 250(1) and the Dunbar Number(2) often quoted.

In my opinion, both of these studies are flawed. They are flawed in their interpretation: The Dunbar Number was never intended as an indication of the average network size. They are outdated: they were both developed in the last century, well before social media dominated our lives and networks. And flawed in the basic premise: Girard’s Law is based on the observation that the average number of guests at a wedding or funeral is 500. I went to a funeral recently that was described as ‘busy’ and I can promise you that nowhere near 500 people attended.

The way both studies have been used in network theory is the biggest flaw. We have been told that ‘the average network size is 250’ (based on Girard’s Law). Other objections aside, this oversimplifies the nature of a network.

Rather than being a flat structure or simple grouping of contacts, networks are more complicated organisms with people flowing in and out and between various levels. I tend to visualize a network as seven levels of a professional relationship with a group of expanding circles, much like the side section of half an onion.

The Seven Stages of Professional Relationships

Within that network, there are seven levels of a professional relationship:

  1. Recognize
  2. Know
  3. Like
  4. Trust
  5. Support
  6. Advocate
  7. Friend (moving into your personal network) 

 

Towards the center of the network are people you have a lot of time for and want to support. That feeling is likely to be reciprocal and you’d be available whenever the other party needs and, at stages six and seven, actively looking out for each other.

This is what we’d call your trusted network, people you are likely to see day in day out, week in and week out (although absence doesn’t necessarily exclude people from your trusted network).

As you move further out through the layers, the relationship becomes a little less trusted, not as deep. You might see each other less frequently, be less inclined to share openly with each other, or ask for help.

At the outer edges of your network are people who come in and out. If we meet at an event or dinner party I’ll be in your network for a few days. By that, I mean that if we bump into each other or I call you, you will remember me and know who I am. But that link is tenuous. After a few days or weeks, we will probably be strangers again.

Compare this to someone in the center of your network. You could probably go three years or more without speaking to each other but still, pick up where you left off as if no time had passed.

People on the outskirts of your network will come in and out. If you want to embed people in your network, your first challenge is to get beyond that outer circle and into their long-term memory.

 

Andy Lopata‘s book, “Connected Leadership” can be bought from amazon.com at a promotional price of $0.99 TODAY. As Ivan’s readership is global, this page lists the book on all of Amazon domains. 

waste of time

Is Your Networking a Waste of Time?

Do you suffer from “butterfly-itis” at the very mention of networking at business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. Many entrepreneurs get a bit uncomfortable when it comes right down to walking up to someone and starting a conversation. Many others are concerned about getting effective results from the time they spend networking. Leave out any of these strategies, and your networking is just a waste of time.

My Top Ten Networking Tips:

1. Have the tools to network with you at all times. These include an informative name badge, business cards, brochures about your business, and a pocket-sized business card file containing cards of other professionals to whom you can refer new business.

2. Set a goal for the number of people you’ll meet. Identify a reachable goal based on attendance and the type of group. If you feel inspired, set a goal to meet 15 to 20 people, and make sure you get all their cards. If you don’t feel so hot, shoot for less. In either case, don’t leave until you’ve met your goal.

3. Act like a host, not a guest. A host is expected to do things for others, while a guest sits back and relaxes. Volunteer to help greet people. If you see visitors sitting, introduce yourself, and ask if they would like to meet others. Act as a conduit.

4. Listen and ask questions. Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately. After you’ve learned what another person does, tell them what you do. Be specific but brief. Don’t assume they know your business.

5. Don’t try to close a deal. These events are not meant to be a vehicle to hit on businesspeople to buy your products or services. Networking is about developing relationships with other professionals. Meeting people at events should be the beginning of that process, not the end of it.

6. Give referrals whenever possible. The best networkers believe in the “givers gain” philosophy (what goes around comes around). If I help you, you’ll help me and we’ll both do better as a result of it. In other words, if you don’t genuinely attempt to help the people you meet, then you are not networking effectively. If you can’t give someone a bona fide referral, try to offer some information that might be of interest to them (such as details about an upcoming event).

7. Exchange business cards. Ask each person you meet for two cards-one to pass on to someone else and one to keep. This sets the stage for networking to happen.

8. Manage your time efficiently. Spend 10 minutes or less with each person you meet, and don’t linger with friends or associates. If your goal is to meet a given number of people, be careful not to spend too much time with any one person. When you meet someone interesting with whom you’d like to speak further, set up an appointment for a later date.

9. Write notes on the backs of business cards you collect. Record anything you think may be useful in remembering each person more clearly. This will come in handy when you follow up on each contact.

10. Follow up! You can obey the previous nine commandments religiously, but if you don’t follow up effectively, you will have wasted your time. Drop a note or give a call to each person you’ve met. Be sure to fulfill any promises you’ve made.

The process doesn’t have to be traumatic, scary, or a waste of time. When done properly, it can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful.

Three Big Lies

Three Big Lies About Networking

Misconceptions about networking are widespread, even among business professionals. Before you can commit yourself to the task of building a healthy network, you probably need to overcome at least one of these three big lies about networking.

I can’t network if I’m not an outgoing person.

There are many techniques that can make the process a whole lot easier. For example, volunteering to be an ambassador or visitor host for a local business networking event can be a great way to get involved without feeling out of place.

When you have guests at your house or office, what do you do? You engage them; make them feel comfortable; you offer them something to drink. What you don’t do is stand by yourself sulking about how you hate meeting new people. By serving as a visitor host at your local chamber event, you effectively become the host of the party. Try it, you’ll find it much easier to meet and talk to new people.

The person-to-person referral business is old-fashioned.

Today, most people do business on a larger scale, over a broader customer base and geographic area. The personal connections of the old-style community and the trust that went with them is mostly gone. That’s why a system for generating referrals among a group of professionals who trust one another is so important, and it’s why referral networking is not only the way of the past but the wave of the future. It’s a cost-effective strategy with a long-term payoff. It’s where business marketing is going, and it’s where you need to go if you’re going to stay in the game.

Networking is not hard science. Its return on investment can’t be measured.

I once suggested to the dean of a large university that the business curriculum should include courses in networking. His response, “My professors would never teach that material here. It’s all soft science.”

Why don’t business schools teach this subject? I think it’s because most are made up of professors who’ve never owned a business. Almost everything they know about running a business they learned from books and consulting.

Business schools around the world need to wake up and start teaching this curriculum. Schools with vision, foresight, and the ability to act swiftly (the way business professors say businesses should act) will be positioning themselves as leaders in education by truly understanding and responding to the needs of today’s businesses.

Successful entrepreneurs understand the importance of a strong network and are willing to put in the time it takes to develop fruitful connections. If any of these three big lies are holding you back, it’s time to correct it with the tips provided and watch your business grow.

Summer Networking

Summer Networking Tips

The temperature is rising and so are your summer networking opportunities!

Every once in a while I hear a BNI member say that their chapter slows down during the summer months. I also know of many chapters that flourish in the summer with new members and referral growth! So why are some up and some down? It is a matter of gearing towards the season by refocusing on referrals during your networking activities? Build your business while traveling on vacation too.

What summertime networking activities are you attending? These may not seem like networking activities, however, you should still always be prepared.

  • BBQ
  • Block Parties
  • Pool parties
  • Picnics
  • Ball games or sporting events
  • Music Festivals
  • Reunions
  • Parades
  • Or just some summertime fun:
    Golf, Boating, Traveling, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping or Gardening?

Barbecue / Block Party Networking!

Whether headed to a holiday block party blowout or a more intimate birthday celebration for a colleague, barbecues are a great chance to meet friends of friends and expand your professional network.

Make the most of your family barbecue. Bring a few sample products to the barbecue to give out to family and friends. Who better to help spread the word for you? If you are so inclined, ask attendees to bring a new friend with them to the event. More than likely, some family members will show up with uninvited guests anyway. The more the merrier, right? Use these opportunities to get to know people and share what you are looking for. You never know who they know! But don’t break out in a sales pitch at a barbecue. Ever. People are there to have fun, relax and enjoy.

Pool Party  / Picnic Networking:

Remember that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses them proportionately! Listen to what everyone is saying at your summertime activities. What topics are they mentioning?

Are they complaining about their business? 
Invite them to visit your BNI chapter.

Are they excited about a wedding?
Share about those members in your chapter that are good referrals for them.

Do they talk about their home being too hot in the summer and it costs too much to cool?
Talk about your HVAC or solar member.

Do they want to remodel their home or need to move homes?
It’s Referral time!

Ball Game / Sporting Event Networking:

A great networking strategy is to get tickets to a local ball game or sporting event and invite BNI members and potential referral partners you know to introduce to each other. Whether your team wins or loses, great connections can be made!

Music Festival Networking:

The hills are alive with the sound of networking. Music brings people from all different types of professional backgrounds together networking through all of the music and dancing at a music festival will be a challenge, but it can prove to be invaluable. While each attendee might have a different background, many will have the same overall goal– utilizing networking to make meaningful connections and build their businesses. Every personal encounter is a potential opportunity for networking, so don’t overlook anyone.

Networking at Reunions:

Summertime is the time for both family reunions and class reunions. These are essentially a gathering of (potentially) dozens of people who, despite the fact that they took various different professional paths, automatically have a great deal in common and genuinely want to see one another succeed. So if you’re looking for a job, a career change, industry advice or even if you’re just hoping to network within your field, attending your reunion could be just the ticket. The question is not whether you should attend your reunion, but how you will network effectively at the reunion.

The FOUR hour “one to one” Networking Foursome!

If you are a golfer, find a fellow BNI Member who also plays golf. Set up a round of golf and you each bring a favorite golf playing client to introduce to each other as a referral source for the other BNI member. What a great way to solidify a top referral source and score a ‘hole in one” referral yourself with someone else!

If you do not play golf? Is there a summertime activity that you do that you and a fellow member can invite clients to attend? (Boating, Fishing, Hiking, Tennis, Sailing, Camping,  or Gardening)

The GOAL?

Any place you go with family, friends or strangers is a networking opportunity!

  • Bring Your Business Cards! Bring your fellow BNI members’ business cards with you to all your summertime events!
  • Remember Your Fellow Members and make a goal for one referral per event you attend!
  • Who have you met at these summertime events that you can invite to your chapter as a visitor?

Here’s to a GREAT summer in the Northern Hemisphere filled with lots of referrals! Those BNI Members south of the Equator can wait to use these tips in December or try to network on the ski slopes.

Mentor

One Time, One Meeting

My daughter, Cassie (AKA Dorian Prin – professional name), is a graphic designer and she’s working on the cover of my next book: The Networking Mentor.  I’m including a “sneak peek” of the working graphic for the cover of the book here in this article.

I was talking to Dorian about the paragraph below which is excerpted from the book:

We’ve all had mentors who are in “our story.” When we talk about how our life has changed through our experiences with them, they are part of that story. However, there is something even more important: The real question is not who’s in our story but whose story are we in? Whose life have we made a difference in? That’s what creates a meaningful life, and that’s why this book is for both mentees and mentors.

In our conversation I mentioned that sometimes you might meet someone only once but that meeting is so profound, it can have an influence on you for the rest of your life.

一期一会

Dorian spent some time in Japan and can speak the language.  She said the Japanese have a saying that relates to this concept.  She said the Japanese phrase is: 一期一会 (ichi go ichi e).  Its direct translation is “one time, one meeting” but it probably can be translated more accurately as “once in a lifetime meeting” and is about the cultural concept of the importance of the unrepeatable nature of connections between people who meet. It is a Buddhist concept specifically tied to the tea ceremony and was the topic of contemplation for the tea ceremony she once participated in during one of her visits to Japan.

The lesson here is that you never know how the things you say may influence someone else.  Even if you only meet them once.  An off-handed comment can have a profound effect (either good or bad) on the person you are talking to.

So, I have a question for you.  What has someone said to you that profoundly affected you in business OR in life?  Share your story here on my blog.  I’d really like to hear it.  Post it below in the comments.

AUDIO PROGRAMS

MISNER AUDIO PROGRAMS

Today I’m happy to announce that my professional audio library is available as instant digital downloads as a series of audio programs!

Now you have immediate access to my best audio programs on building your referral network, mastering the basics of networking, enhancing your leadership skills, and more.

UNLOCK THE POWER OF NETWORKING

You can find these audio programs at www.misneraudioprograms.com. I am donating 100% of the royalties generated from the sale of these programs to the BNI Foundation. Magnify your business efforts and support the education of children at the same time — it’s a WIN-WIN.

Whether you are a new or seasoned member, or even if you’ve not yet joined a chapter, these audios will help you from the basics of building consistent referrals to the coaching included about how to Succeed as an Entrepreneur – these audios have something for everyone interested in creating and growing a business. ​

INSTANT DOWNLOADS OF MY AUDIO PROGRAMS NOW AVAILABLE!

These Audio Programs from have never been made available to the public. Now you can own his Greatest Hits.
  • USE CODE IVAN FOR 30% OFF ALL SINGLE PROGRAMS
  • PACKAGES ALREADY DISCOUNTED 40-50%!

Start your adventure here: http://www.misneraudioprograms.com/shop.html

There is no better way to learn about the essential skills of networking. BNI Members all over the world have been inspired and motivated by my audio programs for over 10 years. Now, it’s easier than ever to access instant audio downloads from wherever you are in the world!

develop a diverse network

Develop a Diverse Network

Diversity in your personal network enables you to increase the possibility of including connectors or “linchpins” in your network. Linchpins are people who in some way crossover between two or more clusters or groups of individuals; this allows them to link groups of people together easily. The best way to increase the number of possible connections in your network is to develop a diverse network – not a homogeneous one.

The truth is when it comes to networking – not having a lot in common with someone may mean that they can be a connector for you to a whole world of people that you might not otherwise be able to meet.

Networks are by nature “clumpy”

(that’s the technical term). It is human nature to congregate with people that are very much like us. People tend to cluster together based on education, age, ethnicity, professional status, etc. When we surround ourselves with people who have similar contacts it may be difficult to make connections with new people or companies with whom we desire to do business.

If you wish to build a powerful personal network – branch out. Build a diverse network of professional contacts that include people that don’t look like you. Finds others who do not sound like you, speak like you, or have your background, education, or history. The only thing that they should have in common with you and the other people in your network – is that they should be really good at what they do. Create a personal network like that, and you’ll have a network that can help you succeed at anything.

Andy Lopata

The A-Z of Networking: U is for… (by Andy Lopata)

This month, Andy Lopata shares his networking tips which begin with the letter “U”

  • Uber
  • Ubuntu
  • Unconditional
  • Underestimate
  • Undermine
  • Under-promise
  • Understanding
  • Understated
  • Unicorn (Yes he talks about unicorns)
  • Uniqueness
  • Useful
  • Useless
  • Utilize

Click here to watch this video

Please click below to see Andy’s playlist of his networking tips from A to Z.

https://ivanmisner.com/category/a-to-zs-of-networking/

By knowing why you are networking and what you want to achieve, it is possible to plan accordingly and get great, measurable results. If you have any comments about Andy’s “U” list or any additional “U” words about networking you will want to add to the list. please leave me a comment below.

Andy Lopata

As a business networking strategist, Andy Lopata works with companies on how to use networking tools to develop their businesses. Networking is not just about sales. Whether for lead generation, breaking down silos internally, recruitment and retention of top staff or developing future leaders, networks and collaboration have a key role to play. Andy works with clients to help recognize that role and put the strategy and skills in place to leverage it.

business networking

What is Business Networking?

What is business networking? Let me share the true definition of networking.

“Business Networking is the process of developing and activating your relationships to increase your business, enhance your knowledge and expand your sphere of influence.”

Notice that the key word here is relationships. 

Successful networking of any kind starts with the genuine desire to build relationships for the purpose of giving and receiving business. If you are only networking to gain and not to give, you’ll never be successful.

Building Relationships should become one of the most important components of your business. You should build your business by farming not hunting. If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it’s not powerful. Social capital is like financial capital. To amass financial capital, you have to invest and grow your assets. You have to have money in the bank before you can make a withdrawal. Relationships are very much the same – referral relationships in particular. You must support and help others with their business before you can ask for their help.

Remember business networking is more about FARMING than it is about HUNTING.

It’s about cultivating relationships and taking the time and energy to help them grow and flourish. A good farmer knows when to tend to his crop and when to harvest it; if you over pick, you’ll be left with nothing. But if you continue to care for and maintain your crop, it will grow abundantly.

Let’s think of the farmers, the ones who cultivate steady, growing, genuine and authentic relationships with the people they feel are important to include in their network. They have a steady back-and-forth of interactions that benefits not only them. Everyone involved is rewarded. Why? Because the time is taken to really get to know people enough to make a relationship means that when it comes time to make a referral, it’s much easier to call upon them.

Watch this video below to hear more details about the true meaning of business networking.

How do you define “Business Networking”?

This word has become so overused that some business professionals can no longer define networking. Many people think that networking is attending social or business after-hour events, shaking a few hands, collecting a few cards, and, of course, giving away a few cards of their own. Sadly, they actually believe that’s all there is to networking. To be fair, we could say they’re engaging in social networking. That’s never to be confused, however, with business networking.

Businesspeople tend to fall into one of two groups when it comes to their views of networking. For many, the current mindset is that networking is a passive business strategy, not a proactive marketing tool. This attitude results in a scattered, often ineffective networking approach that consequently wastes the business owner’s time and money. Not surprisingly, when people feel they’ve been wasting their time and money on something, they’re understandably not going to continue that activity.

On the other hand, some proprietors do consider networking a proactive marketing tool for their business. How can you tell? They make it a significant part of their marketing and business plans. These business owners have networking goals. They may even have a budget line item for networking. Most importantly, they practice it and live it every day. They are training a sales force. Their networking team is there to keep an eye out for potential clients. If you “target talk”, that is, hone in on exactly what type of client you are looking for, better, more qualified referrals will result.

After watching the video, let us know your thoughts on the definition of business networkingDo you have a different definition or any feedback on what may be missing from the new definition of networking that we’ve provided here?  We’d love to hear from you so please leave your comments in the comments below. Thanks!

time spend networking

How Much Time Should You Spend Networking?

People who say that networking played a role in their success spent an average of 6 1/2 hours a week networking and had half of their clients from their networking time. However, people who did not invest as much time networking also did not report as much reward. So, how much time should you spend networking?

Therefore, spend about 8-10 hours per week networking and do the right things to build the relationships first when networking.

The secret to getting more business through networking is. . . spending more time doing it!   OK, well, it’s a little more complicated than that because you have to spend time doing the right things.  However, devoting the necessary time is the starting point.  So how much networking time (or NetTime) should you spend developing your personal network and what kind of results can you expect to see?

The survey results

Based on a survey that I helped to write and conduct of over 12,000 business professionals from every populated continent in the world, we finally have a definitive answer to those questions.  The study found that people who said “networking played a role” in their success spent an average of 6.3 hours a week participating in networking activities.  On the other hand, the majority of people who claimed that “networking did NOT play a role” in their success spent only 2 hours or less per week developing their network.  

Clearly, those people who spent very little time engaged in the process felt that networking was not an effective way to build their business.  As with many other aspects of life, you clearly reap what you sow.  It’s no wonder that the people who didn’t invest as much time also did not realize as much reward.  This demonstrates the direct correlation between the amount of time you devote to the networking process and the degree of success that you will likely realize from it.

You may be reading this article and thinking – OK, I now know that I need to be spending at least 6 ½ hours a week networking.  Well, that’s true IF you want to be average (and what successful business person wants to be average)!   If on the other hand, you’d like to be above average – you need to devote more time than that to the cause.  The optimum amount of NetTime is more likely to be 8-10 hours a week if you want to be one of those people that are generating well over half their business from referrals.

How much time do you spend networking each week?  More?  Less? and what percentage of business do you get from your networking efforts?  Comment below.

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