How to Get an Edge and Stand out in the Networking Worldstring(56) "How to Get an Edge and Stand out in the Networking World"

To some businesspeople, networking is something to try when they’re hurting for business.  However, networking is actually a primary strategy for generating business relationships that lead to more referrals.  When done correctly, networking is a proactive strategy for business growth, not a reaction to slow business.

I think the most important single idea in networking is to do what others don’t Doing what others don’t gives you an edge.  It can position you head and shoulders above your competition.  It helps you stand out in a positive way and, when you do, people are attracted to you and your business, and your success grows stronger, deeper and more durable.

 

So go beyond the norm. Take the time to gather information for improving your business by getting straightforward feedback from people.  This will help you identify your business’s strengths and weaknesses so you can take corrective action.  Some more ideas that most people don’t take the time or effort to implement are:

  •  Adopt the attitude of a host at networking mixers
  • Use your influence and professional status to help members of your network solve problems
  • Learn to specifically ask for referrals
  • Take every opportunity to educate yourself on how to better your business and your networking efforts

What is something you do to go beyond the norm and do what most people don’t when it comes to your networking efforts?  There are so many things you can do to stand out from the crowd and I’d really love to hear your ideas. Thanks!

The Darkside of the VCP Process®string(33) "The Darkside of the VCP Process®"

The dark side of the VCP Process® occurs when people get disconnected from what networking is really all about–they’re not carrying out the VCP Process as it is meant to be carried out and that’s when everything goes wrong.

As I mentioned in the video blog I posted last week, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking.  Today’s video is, again, one of several short videos I’ll be posting which cover networking topics that we will be focusing on in the book.  These videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and in this particular video, I explain the networking disconnect–the unfortunate occurrence which takes place when everybody comes to a networking event to sell yet nobody comes to buy.

If you have a story relating to the ‘networking disconnect’ which fits the criteria I describe in the video, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

The VCP Process® Explained–What’s Your VCP Story?string(62) "The VCP Process® Explained–What’s Your VCP Story?"

As some of you may know, Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I are currently working together on a book about networking.  This short video is one of many others, some of which I’ll post in the future, that cover networking topics which we will be focusing on in the book.  The videos are the result of brainstorming sessions for the book and in this particular video, I explain each step of the VCP Process® approach to networking in careful detail, emphasizing that credibility is really the key to networking success.

I share a personal story which demonstrates why trying to drum up referrals from people you’ve never met before is an exercise in futility as you’re not even at the visibility stage with them, and I outline the absolute best way to establish credibility with others.

If you have a story relating to the VCP Process® which fits the criteria I describe in the video, please visit www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com to submit your story for a chance to be published in the upcoming book on networking that Jack Canfield, Gautam Ganglani, and I will be publishing.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

 

True or False?–Your Best Source of Referrals Is Your Customersstring(68) "True or False?–Your Best Source of Referrals Is Your Customers"

Do you believe your best source of referrals is your customers?  If so, think again . . . the reason people sometimes fall into believing customers are there best source of referrals is that they’ve been trained to believe it and have never pursued any other source of referrals.  The only referrals they’ve ever received are from customers.

Don’t get me wrong–customers and clients can be a very good source of referrals and I’m not denying that.  However, many businesses (especially big corporations) are out of touch with the fact that other referral sources are available that can be extraordinarily powerful.  Clients, although often the most readily available sources, are not necessarily the best or steadiest sources of high-quality referrals.  The best sources in the long run are likely to be the people you refer business to.  When you help another businessperson build his or her business, you’re cultivating a long-term relationship with someone who’s motivated to return the favor by bringing business to you, who’s sharing your target market, and who will work systematically with you for mutual benefit.

With a well-developed referral network, you can realize more good referrals from one or two professional referral sources than from all your customers combined.  Why?  Because these professionals are better salespeople than your clients and they spend more time in contact with your target market.  They know how to sell to your client base.  They talk your talk.  If you’ve done your job of educating and training them to refer business to you, they can communicate your value better to their contacts.

There’s also a built-in challenge with viewing customers as referral sources.  If you’re spending part of your time with a customer trying to get referrals, you’re generating a conflict of interest.  Instead of devoting all of your time and attention to the customer’s needs, you’re diverting part of that effort toward your own self-interest.  Instead of devoting all your time and attention to the customer’s needs, you’re diverting part of that effort toward your own self-interest.  The customer may sense that they are not getting full value–and the truth is, they may be right.  You may be sending mixed messages.  You may be polluting customer service time with “gimme business” time.

Yes . . . you can expect to get referrals from a happy customer, but you’d better make darn sure the customer is indeed happy.  This means keeping your attention–and your motivations–focused on the customer’s needs when that is the purpose of the visit or call.  However, there’s nothing wrong with asking for another appointment specifically so you and your client can discuss how you can help each other.

What’s the best referral you’ve gotten recently (think about the referral you’ve been the most excited about)?  Where did that referral come from?  I’d really like for you to share your answer in the comment forum below because I’d love to get a conversation going about the diverse array of avenues from which good referrals can be generated.  My goal in writing this post was not at all to discount customer referrals, but rather to emphasize that they are not solely the best source of referrals–great referrals can come from many places.  For that reason, I’d love to hear where your most recent standout referral came from so please share your story with us–I know more people in addition to me would really like to hear about your experience!

 

Attitude Is a Choice and Choosing Wisely Is a Necessitystring(55) "Attitude Is a Choice and Choosing Wisely Is a Necessity"

Years ago I wrote a blog on the importance of attitude in networking and recently I’ve had several situations arise which have reminded me yet again that attitude shapes the outcome of everyday dealings in huge ways so I’d like to revisit the idea in today’s blog post . 

Some days my schedule involves marathon radio interviews beginning at 4 a.m. and, as you can imagine, getting up at an hour when roosters haven’t even begun to think about warming up their vocal chords is not the most enticing of tasks. However, as the Founder & Chairman of BNI®, the world’s largest business networking organization, I agree to do these interviews at such an outrageous hour because it is my responsibility to do whatever needs to be done to network for the organization.

Now, can you imagine what would happen if  I answered the interviewer’€™s first question–which is always “How are you doing today, Dr. Misner?”–€”by grumbling about how I had stubbed my toe and how I wished I was back in my warm bed?  Well, what would happen is that people would be immediately turned off by my negative attitude and nobody would listen to me.

This brings me to my point that in order to be a master networker, you must always maintain a positive attitude no matter what.  With over two decades of professional networking experience, one thing I’ve learned is how important it is to have a positive attitude in order to successfully network.  And if I’€™m going to go around telling other people how to discipline and train themselves to network effectively, then I darn well better be walking the walk (or at least limping along, stubbed toe and all) and maintaining the positive attitude of a master networker.

Now that I’ve shared the second most important trait of a master networker, I figure might as well give you the other nine.  Here they are, ranked in order of their perceived importance to networking:

 

1. Follows up on referrals
2. Positive attitude
3. Enthusiastic/motivated
4. Trustworthy
5. Good listening skills
6. Networks always
7. Thanks people
8. Enjoys helping
9. Sincere
10. Works their network. 

Starting this week, try making a conscious effort to be aware of your attitude at all times and if it could stand some improvement think about three simple things you could do to change your attitude for the better on a daily basis.  If you’ve already got a great handle on maintaining a positive attitude, take this week to focus on one or more of the other nine traits of a master networker and think of three ways you can build your effectiveness in these areas.  As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts on what you might do to implement the ideas in this blog so please share your comments in the forum below. Thanks!

Tiffanie Kellog: Facts May Tell But Stories Sellstring(48) "Tiffanie Kellog: Facts May Tell But Stories Sell"

I’ve done quite a few video blogs with Tiffanie Kellog and there’s a very good reason for that . . . she is an outstanding Referral Institute® Trainer, Consultant, & Speaker and she has an unending supply of highly useful ideas and comments to offer.

In this video, I talk with Tiffanie about the power of using compelling stories as testimonials for your products and/or services.  Everyone who makes an effort to build their business through referral marketing has the same goal–to have all those in their network talking positively about their business on their behalf.  So, the best thing to do in order to achieve this goal is to arm those in your network with compelling stories of how you’ve helped clients in ways that have transformed their lives in some aspect . . . your fellow networkers can then share these stories with others who may be potential prospects for you, thus creating the most powerful form of a testimonial you can receive.

Watch this short video now to find out why testimonials that simply state facts about your business do nothing more than tell and how in order to really sell someone on your product or service, you need compelling stories.  Remember . . . facts tell, stories sell!

Be sure to check out Tiffanie’s website by clicking here or visiting TiffanieKellog.com and if you have a compelling story about how you’ve helped a customer or client that you think would be a great testimonial for your business, please share it in the comment forum below–you never know who will see it and you might even generate some referrals by sharing it!

True or False?–The More You Promote Yourself, the More Referrals You’ll Get . . .string(93) "True or False?–The More You Promote Yourself, the More Referrals You’ll Get . . ."

If you believe that promoting yourself, in the traditional sense, is the best way to get referrals, I hate to break it to you but it’s actually not a particularly effective way of generating referrals.  The thing is, just talking about yourself is not enough–you’ve got to teach people how to refer you.

You’d think that people would listen when you describe what you do and then just naturally put two and two together when they come across somebody who needs your product or service but unfortunately it doesn’t often happen that way.  People need to be led down the path.  You’ve got to say, “This is what I do.  Here’s what you need to look for, and this is how you refer me.”

Every day we all stand in the middle of a sea of referrals.  They are all around us, they happen all the time, but unless we (and our potential referral sources) are trained to pick up on them, we are oblivious to them. 

The secret is to train yourself and your sources to listen for the language of referrals.  Tell them, “When someone says, ‘I can’t,’ ‘I need,’ ‘I want,’ or ‘I don’t know,’ whatever she says next is a possible referral for me.”  Teach your sources to listen for words or phrases expressing a specific need: “I can’t get this lawnmower engine running right,” or “I don’t know which tax form I need to use,” or “I want to remodel my dining room, but I don’t know any good contractors.”  One of these could translate into a referral for you or someone you know.

Remember also that referral success arises from a system where information flows in both directions.  Approach it not by promoting yourself but by learning about other people’s businesses in order to find business for them first.  After that you can explain to them what you do–if they’re interested.  Maintaining a balance, with an emphasis on the philosophy of Givers Gain®, is what will most efficiently and effectively bring you success in referral marketing.

Think of one person in your network whose business you are interested in knowing more about.  What ways can you think of to get the ball rolling this week in regard to opening up a discussion with that person about each other’s respective businesses?  Please leave your comments, thoughts, and ideas in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Facts Tell, But Stories Sellstring(28) "Facts Tell, But Stories Sell"

Over the past few weeks, I’ve posted blogs on how embracing quality, adding members, and seeking engagement are all things that will help networkers and entire networking groups achieve success.  Today, I’d like to talk about an additional tactic for obtaining stellar networking results–sharing stories.

Listening closely to the information shared by those in your referral network will help you in telling positive stories about them when you come across potential opportunities to refer them.  Conducting regular one-to-one meetings with each of your networking partners will also help you become more able to share stories when you refer others to them.  Think about your many positive experiences with your fellow networkers and write them down.

A number of years ago, I met Robert Dickman, author of The Elements of Persuasion, and he taught me the formula for a good story:

  1. A story is a fact
  2. Wrapped in emotion
  3. That compels us to take action
  4. That transforms us in some way

The key here is that a good story compels people to take action and that this action transforms or helps them in some way.  I always try to re-live a story, not just re-tell a story.  Make it sound fresh and alive.  That is an important aspect of storytelling.

Remember that facts tell, but stories sell.  If you want to build your network in order to generate more referrals, overlay storytelling on top of your efforts.

The keys to success within networking groups which I’ve previously posted blogs about (embracing quality, adding members, seeking engagement) can combine with sharing stories for a powerful formula that will help members of networking groups obtain optimum networking results and business growth:

3+1 = Member Success

  • 1-Embrace Quality
  • 2-Add Members
  • 3-Seek Engagement
  • +1 Share Stories

Understanding this formula can improve your business networking success in amazing ways. 

If your networking group already employs this formula, I’d love to hear about the impact it has made on your group’s performance and results.  Please share your feedback (and stories) in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Seeking Engagement: A Critical Step for Networking Groupsstring(57) "Seeking Engagement: A Critical Step for Networking Groups"

Engagement involves a promise and an action.  In order to achieve success in your group of networking relationships, you and your relationships must promise to support one another and then take the actions necessary to fulfill that promise.

There are many ways that you can become engaged.  Have you taken the time to regularly meet with the people in your network?  Have you taken the time to educate them regularly on the key features of your business so that your products or services will be top of mind in the event they meet someone with a need for what you supply?  Have you taken the time to become educated on the key features of your networking relationships’ businesses so that you can do the same?

The higher the number of people in your network who are engaged in these activities, the more likely it is that the entire group will be generating more referrals.  The reason for this is a shared vision of success and a shared implementation of that vision.

Another way to be actively engaged and educated about each others’ businesses is to do regular and consistent meetings.  Over and over, I see that business owners who have regular one-to-one meetings with their business networking relationships tend to both give AND get more referrals.

Lastly, are you focusing on your “elevator pitch”?  The best way to ensure your referral sources are going to remember what you do is to focus on communicating your business to them by breaking it down into laser-specific elements.  Sharp-shoot your pitch, don’t shotgun it.  In each of your regular one-to-one meetings, talk about one key element, product, or benefit of what you do.

According to Psychology Today, research has found that people who are “actively engaged” in a business environment are “43% more productive” than those who are not.  Furthermore, they state that engagement includes “regular dialogue, quality of working relationships, perceptions of ethos and values of the organization, and recognition.”  There’s research behind my recommending reciprocal engagement between you and your referral partners.  In fact, it’s critical to your success–and theirs.

This week, think about new ways in which you can support your networking partners in order to promote engagement within your networking group.  I’d love to hear what ideas you come up with so please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

 

 

Networking Faux Pas: Not Following Upstring(37) "Networking Faux Pas: Not Following Up"

In this fourth installment of the Networking Faux Pas Series, I talk about the faux pas which I see happen most out of the faux pas topics I’ve discussed thus far.  It also happens to be the faux pas which frustrates me the most (Seriously–it drives me crazy!)–it’s when you give a networking partner a referral and they drop the ball and don’t follow up on it.

Remember, if you aren’t following up when your referral partners call you and/or aren’t following up on the referrals you’re given, you’re not just losing business . . . you’re also losing your credibility and that’s something which is extremely difficult to earn back.

Have you had an experience where you gave a referral to someone and they didn’t follow up on it?  If so, will you continue to give that person referrals?  Or, have you dropped the ball on following up on a referral before?  If the answer is yes, did you learn a lesson from it?  Please share your experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Simple Addition Equals Successstring(30) "Simple Addition Equals Success"

 

Years ago I learned that there is a dramatic correlation between the size of a quality networking group and the number of referrals which are generated by that group.  The fact is, the addition of new members brings an increase in the likelihood that any given networking group will be successful.

Groups under 20 people do not generate as many referrals (proportionately) as do groups over 20 people and the math proves it.  If you have a group of 16 people, that group has 256 connections (16 x 16).  However, a group of 32 people has 1,024 connections (24 x 24)!

In a network, the number of relationships leads to a number of possible business referral connections that is a squared multiple of the actual number of people in your network.  I call this ratio of people in a group compared to the total connections that are created, the “Squared Connection Effect.”  Hence, the quantity of people you build networking relationships with truly makes a difference in the total number of connections and inevitably the amount of referrals which can be generated from your group.

So as you begin to build your own network of referral relationships, keep in mind that the more the better!  The bottom line is that the more connections you have (based on quality relationships, of course), the more referrals you can generate. The math is pretty significant and consistent.

Is your networking group currently positioned for success in regard to the number of people belonging to the group?  If not, what are some things you might be able to do this week to help your networking group grow?

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?string(58) "Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?"

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

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