online networking Archives - Dr. Ivan Misner®
Online Networking Meetings

The Dos and Don’ts of Online Networking Meetings

The technology that exists today is great.  When I started BNI 35 years ago, we couldn’t do any of this.  We all had to quickly learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy this year. Naturally, there’s a great deal of overlap between face-to-face and online networking. However, networking online works only when you are engaged during your online networking meetings to learn about each other.  Therefore, you need to practice active listening so that you leave your online networking meetings with more ideas on how to refer your networking partners. Now, more than ever, you need your network to work together and support each other by networking online.

Seven Tips for Your Online Networking Meetings

Watch this video to learn how you can make your online networking meetings more successful:

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

It will still be a while until we can attend face-to-face networking events again. Therefore, we need to attend online networking meetings instead. Online networking meetings will never replace in-person networking, but they work well together. If you remember these tips during your next online networking meeting, you will maintain a powerful personal network that will be even stronger once we return to in-person networking again.

What tips do you have for attending your online networking meetings? I would love to read your suggestions. Please share them in the comments below.

net

Networking on the Net

Are you suffering from “networking withdrawal”, missing networking at business functions? If you answered yes, you are not alone. In only a few short weeks, an entire technology, vocabulary, culture, and virtual marketplace have been born. Cyber entrepreneurs, online customers, and a whole new net economy have evolved at a blinding speed.  It is no wonder so many business owners are at a loss about what to do and how to do it when it relates to the Internet and their business. The net is to the world what the printing press was hundreds of years ago. It is to the world what radio and television were only decades ago. The Internet has opened doors and opportunities these days in a way beyond anything that has preceded it.

The Internet is an excellent vehicle for networking via social media and “Zoom Room” communities. These communities allow people to connect online regularly, exchange information and ideas, and get to know one another a little better. Besides, staying in touch via the Internet is our only option these days of working from home during “The Great Pause”. I’ve found the net to be a very powerful mechanism for regularly connecting with people with whom I already have a casual relationship. That’s the key–that the Internet is a great tool for staying in touch with people you’ve already established a connection with. Granted, you may do some business with people that you’ve met on social media. However, for the most part, people do “repetitive” business with people they know and trust.

Learn how to utilize the net as part of your networking strategy.

  • Understand that your business fundamentals might need to quickly adapt to the “new normal”
  • Create a social media business plan for your online marketing
  • Develop your online networking skills
  • Update your company’s look and brand with a new website to reflect what is happening with your business during “The Great Pause”
  • Learn how to network on the internet and stay connected with platforms such as “Zoom”

Those businesses that neglect to consider these issues today will most surely be a casualty of this new technology tomorrow. But more importantly, those businesses that do consider these issues today will be the success stories of tomorrow. When done properly, networking on the net can truly make a difference in the amount of business your company generates. Not only now while we are all working from home, but when we return to our “new normal” at the office after “the Great Pause”. With the right approach, you can use it to build a wealth of resources and contacts that will help make your business very successful now and in the future.

Sure, I’ve seen some business relationships begin, develop, and prosper via the net. However, I have found that most repetitive referral relationships start through personal contact and are maintained via Internet communication. We live in the Internet age, where change seems to take place at light speed. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online. If you’re in business today, you need to be on the net.

Emotional Intelligence

Build a High (EQ) Emotional Intelligence

Building your “Emotional Intelligence” also known as “Emotional Quotient” or “EQ” is extremely important right now. Emotional Intelligence is the ability we have to manage our relationships with other people. EQ is the skill we developed as business owners before the pandemic to network with others face-to-face and build our “social capital”.

However, physical isolation and working from home has led to changing the way we are networking these days. We currently cannot network in person nor meet with clients at our places of business. Instead, our networking is online and our businesses are virtual. Therefore, managing our relationships with other people by building a high-EQ is even more important than ever.

The higher your Emotional Intelligence is, the more natural your ability to network will be. You can improve your EQ by understanding and applying some important online networking concepts.

Develop a dynamic online networking style

Networking is so much more than attending the typical face-to-face meet-n-greet routine events. These days, we are not attending face-to-face events; we are networking online and by telephone. Therefore, your networking style needs to also change to maintain your social capital. Developing an online networking style that is deliberate, dynamic, and habitual will help you to build higher Emotional Intelligence.

This can be done while working from home by reading books and other internet articles about online marketing and learning from others their techniques for applying your previous word-of-mouth networking skills to networking online. Adapting your networking skills will take conscious practice and application before they become habits. Build a high-EQ by creating a dynamic plan to network online these days.

Network online appropriately 

Be sensitive to the fact that we are all in this together when building your online networking style. Businesses not used to networking online promote their company with an almost vulture-like intensity. They flood social media with direct sales ads and posts about their business to people they hardly know. This will result in lowering your Emotional Intelligence. Furthermore, the business world has changed and networking has adapted to a virtual market. We are no longer able to attend face-to-face networking events to pass out our business cards, obtain transactional leads, and ask someone the ubiquitous “what do you do?”.  Instead, we need to post regularly on our social media pages, build our relationships with others, pass referrals, and ask others “How can I help?” Understanding how to network appropriately online is another sign of a high-EQ networker.

Stay connected and follow-up with others

Picking up the phone and staying connected with clients, customers, and colleagues is an area where the high Emotional Intelligence networker excels. A skillful online networker will never miss an opportunity to follow-up after an introduction to a new business contact. I recommend that you write testimonials on the social media business pages for your referral partners. Plus, reach out and do the same for those businesses you have used both personally and professionally over the years. Leave a comment on a few of their social media posts too. I also recommend that you request your clients, customers, and colleagues to write testimonials and reviews on your social media pages too. Now is a great time to create a newsletter that you can email to all your clients about the current changes to your business, special promotions, how you are helping others, and include the URL links to all your social media pages. Ask them to like and follow each of your pages in addition to a request for testimonials from them about your business.

Following up with others on referrals (received & given) is not our favorite thing, but it is something that needs a lot of finesse and demands diligence. Pick up the phone and call. Many business people are working from home alone and do not have other people to talk to. Keeping your name, your business’s name and your expertise in front of others is very important these days. And it’s important to follow up more than once. High-EQ networkers use their telephones, social media pages and emails to network online and re-connect with each other often to build a strong long-lasting relationship.

Maintain customer loyalty

Many entrepreneurs focus so much on bringing in new business that they miss the boat on maintaining customer loyalty with gratitude. Keeping current customers coming back and referring others to you is important for business success and growth! The entrepreneur who understands this makes their customers feel valued and appreciated. They will come back and refer others to you, even if you are working from home. Becoming friends with each person with whom you do business is an indicator of a high-EQ networker.

Business owners will be referred to and promoted by others because of Emotional Intelligence and their ability to develop social capital. With online networking these days, high-EQ networkers can maintain a strong word-of-mouth based business.

Online Networking

Develop Your Online Networking Skills

When it comes to online networking, there are several ways to develop your word-of-mouth marketing, but it’s important to understand that the foundation of making online networking work for you is the same as with any kind of networking–you’ve got to develop relationships with trusted business associates. Here are a few tips about developing your online networking skills to build relationships and trust in an online environment.

Decide which social media platforms are best for your online networking.

  • Facebook: The largest social networking site in the world and one of the most widely used. Therefore, all business Types should have a Facebook business page.
  • Instagram: This phone-based platform is completely based on sharing photos and videos. The posts on Instagram should be focused on the “Millennial” business owner as Instagram is a social media platform preferred by business owners under the age of 35. Therefore, this platform is recommended for image-based business types such as hairstylists, makeup, clothing, Realtors, and restaurants.
  • LinkedIn: This is easily one of the most popular professional social networking sites used across the globe by all types of professionals and serves as an ideal platform to connect with different businesses.
  • Nextdoor: This is a private social networking platform for neighborhoods allowing users to get connected with the people and local businesses in their area.
  • Pinterest: This visual bookmarking social media site enables you to find new ideas for your projects. Therefore, this platform is recommended for home improvement companies, travel agents, event planners, clothing, and teachers.
  • Twitter: This “current events” platform shares what is going on right now. Therefore, this platform is ideal for news agencies. Twitter also makes it possible to promote your businesses and even shop directly through tweets.
  • YouTube:  This is the world’s largest video-sharing social networking site that enables users to upload and share videos. Businesses should host their videos on this platform to be shared onto the other platforms.

No matter which social media platform you choose, however, after joining, you need to actively participate by posting content regularly to best grow your presence at the site. Post topics on threads that deal with your area of expertise. Respond to others’ postings on other threads if the subject is at all relevant to your area of expertise. The more you’re seen, interacted with and talked about, the more visibility you’ll gain on the site. If you do not have the time to dedicate to your pages, hire a social media coordinator to manage your pages. Here is mine, Brian Bentzen.

Keep in mind that it’s not enough to just create your business pages. You have to focus on building relationships with the other members online. Engage with your followers to develop real relationships with people you’re meeting in cyberspace.

Create a blog page and write blog articles.

Online networking works best when you get plenty of “hits.” You can start a blog (basically an online diary) on your website. Then, write a weekly blog article about your industry. Finally, share the link to these blogs on your social media pages. As people read your content and become familiar with you, they’ll feel like they know you and that’s integral to the networking process. Becoming an expert in an area and writing regularly about it can go a long way toward building your online networking opportunities.

Develop an e-mail newsletter for your own company.

Create a monthly newsletter about your company’s products and services. Then use a service such as “Constant Contact or MailChimp” to send this newsletter via email to your followers and clients to drive them to your website. Be sure that your newsletters contain content that has a broad spectrum of interest about your business. You might want to encourage clients and customers to contribute to your content. In doing this, you’ll build stronger relationships with them, which in turn will help you increase the number of referrals you’ll receive.

Develop online credibility.

With online networking, the bottom line is still the same as with live networking. To drive business to your company by word of mouth, you must focus on developing real, personal relationships with people. Once you’ve established that foundation of trust, you’ll feel comfortable referring people–and so will your network. The same is true with online networks, although it may take a bit longer to develop that trust over the internet. When posting online, blogging, or writing your newsletters, remember your goal is to establish trust, respect, and friendship. Please watch this video to learn some things you can do right now to maintain a powerful personal network. Now, more than ever, you need your network. Work together with them by networking online.

  • Use social media to attract customers
  • Build ongoing relationships with customers online
  • Increase brand awareness for your business

Online networking gives you breadth in your networking efforts. It allows you to broaden your reach to anywhere in the world. Just don’t forget that trust and relationship building are still as important as ever. You need to build a relationship before you ask for someone’s business.

Introverts

Introverts Can Be Great Networkers These Days

Being an introvert is not a networking handicap and is an advantage these days of online networking due to social distancing and self-isolation while working from home. A common assumption is that a “people-to-person” is the best type of networker. But this isn’t necessarily true. Though introverts often eliminate themselves from networking because they aren’t good at initializing conversations, they are better at the part of networking that’s more important to the relationship-building process.

Networking is a two-part process. First, you have to meet someone new and share information about yourself. The extrovert may be better at this first part of the process when face-to-face; but the introvert is better at the second part — listening to the person he or she just met online. Plus, introverts are better at asking questions. Here are a few more tips for online networking and for working at home.

Introverts and Extroverts

So, if you are introverted, put down that book and reach out to others. Stop using that as an excuse not to network. There are many techniques you can use to make online networking easier and more natural for you to greet people and introduce yourself. Networking is a skill that can be learned — regardless of your level of gregariousness. Even if you’re not outgoing or gregarious, you can form meaningful relationships with others online and support each other’s businesses.

Furthermore, if you are extroverted, stop using your isolation from working from home as an excuse not to network. Most entrepreneurs depend directly on others and have a comfort level in dealing with people. For extroverts, referral-based online marketing is still one of the best ways to build your business these days.

Take advantage of online training workshops these days that you can do from the comfort of your home office. These can teach you how to online network effectively. You’ll find that when you learn ways to handle these situations, you’ll become more relaxed and confident in an online networking setting.

You don’t have to be a people person to network, you just have to be willing to listen. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and uses each proportionally. A good networker asks questions and gets to know the other person. Once you know the other person, it’s much easier to grow each other’s business.

It Never Hurts to Ask . . . Right?

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

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

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

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

Think “That Online Networking Stuff” Is Just for “Young People”?–Think Again . . .

Many of my video blogs of late, including this one, focus on topics that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be focusing on in our upcoming book about networking.  I’m posting these videos to share my own thoughts and stories about different networking topics because Jack, Gautam, and I are looking for personal story submissions from networkers across the globe and these videos give examples of the kind of stories we’re looking for.

In this particular video, I talk about different aspects of online networking in relation to face-to-face networking.  It seems that younger networkers (mostly those belonging to the millennial generation) are often all about online networking and don’t see the point in face-to-face; whereas networkers from the older generations tend to be completely on board with face-to-face networking but see online efforts as a fad or a waste of time.  One of the things I emphasize in this video, however, is that networkers today should never take an “either” face-to-face “or” online networking stance–instead, for maximum results and increased opportunity, they should take a “both/and” stance, integrating each type of networking into their overall referral marketing strategy.

If you have a story similar to the one  I share in the video about making powerful connections online, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming networking book which I mention above.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

Which Is Better–Online Networking or In-Person Networking?

 

In this brief video, Roger Green and I talk about online networking versus in-person networking and also what I discovered when doing research for the book Business Networking and Sex in regard to how much time is necessary to invest in networking in order to get results.

When it comes to networking, there’s online networking and there’s face to face networking.  The simple fact is–it’s not “either/or” . . . it’s “both/and.”  Online networking doesn’t impact face-to-face networking in a negative way. It enhances it.

If you want to be successful in building your personal network, you need diversity in your networks. I highly suggest that people join a few different networks, rather than just sticking with one.

What in-person networks do you currently belong to?  Which online networks do you currently belong to?  In the comments section, please share which networks (both in-person and online) you belong to that you’ve had the most success with–perhaps someone else might read about your experiences and gain success with those networks as well.

Don’t Wait for a Reunion to Network with Former Classmates

After graduation, classmates seem to spread out to chase individual professional goals without any context in which to keep in touch.  Fortunately, the internet now offers a multitude of options to help you reconnect with old school friends and acquaintances and convert those relationships into useful tools for your business.

In this short video, I discuss several of these online networking options that will help you effectively connect with your former classmates so you don’t have to sit around waiting for a reunion to give you the opportunity.

After watching the video, I encourage you to connect with one of your former classmates during the coming week by using one of the online networking options I mention and then come back and leave a comment about your experience.  I’m willing to bet you’ll be glad you connected and you’ll continue to connect with more and more friends and acquaintances from your school days.

Five Steps for Getting the Most from LinkedIn

I’ve been following the development of online business networking for several years now; particularly at the inception of sites like Ecademy.com and LinkedIn.  That said,  I’d like to state for the record: If you’ve had any lingering thoughts that social media is just a fad, you may want to lose them.

Are you aware that LinkedIn’s IPO (Initial Public Offering) has a valuation of 4.3 billion (USD)?  That’s right, I said BILLION.  If you haven’t been taking social media seriously, perhaps it’s time to start.

While there are indeed many competitors to LinkedIn, it has certainly–for now–risen to the top when it comes to sites devoted primarily to business networking and social media.

In this short video, I offer five valuable tips that will guide you in the right direction when it comes to using LinkedIn and getting the most from the efforts you put into networking online through this particular site.

Do you have additional tips for using LinkedIn, or other networking sites, which you’ve found to be highly effective?  If so, please share them in the comments section so others can learn and benefit from your experience.

Online Networks Lag Behind Other Networking Efforts

As part of the survey for the book, Business Networking And Sex (not what you think), my co-authors and I asked several questions which weren’t used in the final manuscript.  The survey was open to the public and was conducted with over 12,000 business people from every populated continent in the world.  One of the questions we didn’t use in the book was “What types of organizations do you belong to?” (note that respondents were able to pick more than one).

We also asked a question that was used in the manuscript in various places: “Has networking played a role in your success?”  We got some interesting findings when we cross-tabulated these two questions with one another.  We expected casual contact and referral networks to do fairly well, and they did.  However, we were surprised by some of the other results in the survey.

Don’t shoot the messenger however – online networks did very poorly, with only 27% of the respondents saying that networking has played a role in their success!  Women’s business organizations did even worse, with 17.7%; and service clubs came in last, with only 17.2% of the respondents saying that networking played a role in their success.

What does this mean?  Overall, people who got the most results from their networking efforts seem to participate in “face-to-face” casual contact networks like a Chamber of Commerce, referral networks like BNI, and to a lesser extent professional associations (like any professional body or society representing a particular industry), while online networks, women’s business organizations, social/business groups, and service clubs rated very low in success results relating to their networking.

Even though they didn’t fare well in this survey, I’m actually quite an advocate of online networks, women’s business organizations, and service clubs – and I will continue to be so. I did some thinking about the results of the survey, and why these groups came in with such low percentages compared to the casual contact and referral networks.

I’m inclined to believe that the women’s organizations and service clubs didn’t do as well because they both have another important purpose that take precedence over networking.  Women’s business organizations often provide a place where members both support and educate each other. The mission of service clubs focus primarily on providing service to the community, with networking opportunities being more of a “by-product.”  Seeing tangible success in members’ networking efforts is much more subtle in groups like these, and that may be one of the main reasons why they didn’t do as well in the survey.

Because I was really surprised by the results, I spent a lot of time thinking about online networks and their disappointing standing in the respondents’ ranking of successful networking efforts. The results are indicative of a comment that I hear quite often by business owners who have begun to market their businesses via the growing number of online social and business networking sites: “I’ve got a profile page and a thousand connections…now what?”

Many entrepreneurs jumped on the “social media marketing” bandwagon and spent a lot of time and effort building their online social capital (through LinkedIn “connections”, Facebook “friends” and “likes”, and Twitter “followers”), but without an actual plan of how to turn this growing number of contacts into actual customers. This is one area many entrepreneurs struggle with as online networking continues to come into its own.

Another issue is that the addition of Internet marketing (including online networking) has exponentially increased the number of marketing messages the average person sees per day – to literally tens of thousands. While online – whether chatting on Google Talk, or looking at friends’ photos on Facebook, watching a celebrity’s Twitter feed, learning about a connection’s promotion on LinkedIn, reading a blog for business or pleasure, or doing an internet search – a person is inundated with entreaties.

Read this!

Buy this!

Try this!

Connect with me!

Like my business!

It’s easy to get distracted by these messages, particularly because those who have the time, staff, or money to put out the most messages tend to drown out any messages from smaller businesses or single individuals also trying to get their messages to be “heard.”

As I’ve already mentioned, I like online networking.  I am active in online networking. We may someday figure out how to make it work even better; however, the results are the results and – still a surprise to me – they’re not very favorable for online networks. I certainly don’t think that entrepreneurs should stop finding ways to improve their success in the online networking arena. However, as we have learned in our recent multi-national study, online networks still have a way to go before they can begin to compete with the effectiveness of the more traditional, face-to-face networking opportunities available.

 

Using a Blog to Build Your Brand?–Top Tips for a Better Blog

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itXnDlr33mE&feature=player_embedded[/tube]

In this video, my good friend Jarret Gucci, who is also the web expert credited with building this BusinessNetworking.com blog site and helping me to “make it work,” explains the two most powerful ways to make your blog better.

If you’re one of the many businesspeople around the world who utilizes blogging to build your brand, don’t be shy . . . after you watch the video, leave a comment letting the rest of us know what you’ve done to make your blog work. I get really inspired when I hear creative new ways of improving things to get better results and I know the rest of the readers of this blog will be inspired by your ideas too!

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