relationships Archives - Page 5 of 7 - Dr. Ivan Misner®
When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower

When Does Going Faster, Make Things Slower?

I start this blog with a riddle: When does going faster, make things slower?  Well the answer is: when you are rushing a relationship.

A few years ago a close friend of mine, Dr. Emory Cowan, contributed an article for my book Masters of Networking.  I’m sharing his contribution in my blog today because I think it is a great concept to think about as we start the new year.

Building a word-of-mouth marketing plan requires developing a trusted network of partners — which means cultivating relationships. But relationships require time, energy, persistence, and, most of all, patience.

I believe that patience gives us the most difficulty. We live in a quick-fix, immediate-gratification society where patience is neither valued nor encouraged. We want our sales now, our business fully grown now, our satisfaction in wealth now. But when I grow impatient with the tedious process of developing relationships, one of life’s many humbling lessons comes back to remind and instruct me: Drink no wine before its time.

Many years ago, I bought some peaches at the farmers’ market in Atlanta. They were the famous Georgia peaches, grown in orchards in the Fort Valley region and renowned for their sweet, juicy taste and wonderful aroma. I took them home, visions of peach pies and cobblers dancing in my head. We ate some right away; most sat out on the kitchen counter.

One morning I was awakened by the aroma of peaches filling the house. I knew that something would have to be done with them soon or they would spoil. Wine, I thought. Why not make some peach wine? I knew my parents, who lived fifteen miles away, had an old ceramic crock and an old family recipe for fermenting wine from fruit. I found the crock, cleaned it, and, on the way home, bought cheesecloth for the top, along with yeast and sugar for the ingredients.

By the time I got home, my excitement over this project was so great that I could almost taste new wine as I cut up the peaches, added the sugar and yeast, and closed the top with the cheesecloth. But the process of making wine is slow, and I was impatient. With the crock safely stashed in the cool basement, I drove home from work each day with growing excitement. I would go immediately to the crock and smell the brew. As the days went by I became more intent on having the wine ready for consumption. But it was not happening fast enough for me.

So, one afternoon, frustrated that it was taking so long, I carried the crock to the kitchen, determined to speed up the process of fermentation. I removed the contents, used a blender to further emulsify the peaches, and added more sugar and yeast. Smug and satisfied, I returned the crock to the basement, and three days later I had — vinegar!

My vinegar-making triumph has become a life-shaping parable for me. When I am tempted to rush the process of forming relationships, whether in business, in a networking group, or in my personal life, I am reminded that some things just take time to happen. I am aware that letting my impatience force the process can turn the potential of new wine into vinegar.

Patience in developing relationships is a virtue. It leads to solid networked contacts who can help you with your business, your interests, and your life.

This is a powerful lesson for us all to consider for life and for networking.  Good wine and great relationships both take time.

What are your thoughts about this story?  Have there ever been times where you tried to rush a relationship and had a bad result?  Share your story here with us here.

 

Getting to the Referral Stage with a New Contact

People often ask me how to move a relationship with someone they just met to the point where the new contact feels comfortable passing them a referral.

I always say that the best way to get to this next referral-passing stage depends in part on how you came into contact with a person in the first place.  Let’s say you met while giving a brief presentation to a group of people who are in your target market.  Assuming you did a good job, then you absolutely have the possibility of receiving a referral, even though you just met.  Why? Because the presentation moved you from visibility to credibility in the new contact’s mind and now they’re probably willing to risk their reputation and recommend you to someone they know.

The same thing is true when you’re out networking.  If you have a good conversation with someone and truly add value to the conversation, then moving from visibility to credibility isn’t that difficult, and you’ll be in great shape for getting some referral-based business.  What’s more, it’s not terribly important whether the person is someone you might do business with directly.  Even if your businesses don’t match up, the other person might have information that’s useful or might know other people you’d like to get in contact with.  It’s often worthwhile to develop a networking relationship with people who have little in common with you because they can bring an entirely new network into contact with yours and broaden your business horizons.

Just bear in mind that even if there is a strong possibility that you’re going to do business with this new contact, it’s probably not going to happen there at the networking event, where conversations last anywhere from an eye-blink three minutes to a long-winded seven.  Instant business is not likely to be had.  But if you follow up with a quick note a few days later, you can make some one-to-one time and come up with ways the two of you can help each other.  That meeting is where you’ll have your best opportunity for a quick referral.

What has your experience been with moving to the referral stage with new contacts–do you have a tactic that seems to be particularly effective?  If so, please share it in the comments section.

 

My Daddy Is Ambassador and I’m a Brownie

When Martha Taft was a young girl in elementary school, she was asked to introduce herself to a group of people. “My name is Martha Bowers Taft,” said the child. “My great-grandfather was President of the United States. My grandfather was a United States Senator. My daddy is Ambassador to Ireland. And I am a Brownie.”

 I thought of that quote when I recently heard the following story from Nanette Polito from Cincinatti:

In this day of technology, our younger generation understands all the social media and how to communicate through texting, email, instant messaging, and Facebook. We, the slightly older generation, need them to help us wade through it.

But does the younger generation really understand the importance of creating face-to-face personal relationships?

 

As a member of BNI for the last 14 years and an area director for Greater Cincinnati and Northern KY for the last eight years, my son and daughter both grew up on BNI. What I never realized was they were watching from afar and taking it all in.

During the summer months, the kids sometimes would tag along with me to my chapter visits. Because they were business meetings, I would have them sit off to the side. One particular morning my daughter, then 12, sat in a different part of the restaurant. The group did not want her sitting alone and insisted she sit with us. So, I let her.

The meeting proceeded, and it came time for the 60-second commercials; Alexandra was sitting on my right and the commercials were going clockwise. As the gentleman on my daughter’s right stood to give his commercial, I prepared to give mine. But, before I could stand, Alexandra jumped up and said, “Hi, my name is Alexandra Polito. I am 12 years old and a Red Cross Certified babysitter. A good referral for me would be your children, if you need a qualified sitter.”

I was proud—and shocked—and so were my fellow members! Of course, we all commended her on a job well done. Proof? She received two referrals!

Who knew that those years of watching taught both of my children how to network. To this day they both have used those skills. Recently, I was talking to Alexandra about this memory and asked her if her fellow college mates really knew how to network; she stated they really didn’t.

Networking is not something taught in school, and our younger generation doesn’t understand that real importance of that face-to-face meeting and becoming visible, which leads to credibility.

So, yes, we are our children’s most important teachers, they are watching us! Make sure they see you networking and help them to understand what it is you are doing and why it is important.

 

What are we teaching our children about networking?  I’d love to hear a story from you about this.

What Is ‘Active’ Networking

I was talking with a business woman recently who is fairly new to networking and I was explaining that networking is a contact sport–that it requires people to get out there and actively and strategically build relationships.  At one point she asked, “Well, what exactly does that involve? . . . What defines ‘active’ networking?”

This is actually a great question because it opens up a discussion about not only ‘active’ networking but also about ‘passive’ networking.

Actively networking with others means you invite those people to one or more of the networking organizations you belong to, carry several of their business cards with you all the time, and above all, refer them whenever you have an opportunity to do so.  Active networking also means having a reciprocal relationship with others.

We prefer doing business with people who do business with us.  Why give your business to someone who’s not willing to return the favor?  There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of competent, dependable business professionals in your area who provide any given product or service.  They don’t have to buy something from you to reciprocate.  They can join one of your networking groups, carry your business cards, or simply refer you to people looking for your product or service.

Passively networking with others means that you use them as a resource occasionally but for some reason cannot actively network with them.  It may be because they represent a narrow market where you have no way of assisting.  Perhaps they’ve told you they’re not interested in participating in any networking organizations.  Maybe they’re located too far away to refer to them regularly.

Now that you know the difference between active networking and passive networking, strengthen your networking strategy by making it a point to:

1.  Identify members of your information, support, and referral network components.

2.  Spot the voids and weaknesses in your network, and work to improve and fill it with valuable members.

Do Men or Women Get More Referrals?

[tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7spXRgDljhg&feature=channel_video_title[/tube]

[Business Networking and Sex is scheduled to be released in January of 2012.  Stay tuned to other topics from the book by visiting www.BusinessNetworkingAndSex.com.]

Do women get a higher percentage of business from networking or do men? This is the lively discussion taking place between my Business Networking and Sex co-authors and I in this short video.  What do you think?  I’d love to get your opinion on the topic!

After watching the video, leave YOUR opinion here.  Share which gender you believe gets a higher percentage of their business from networking and WHY.

Talk ‘To’ Each Other, Not ‘About’ Each Other

An important and invaluable lesson I’ve learned over the years is that clear, open, honest, direct communication with people solves most problems. So often I have seen relationships deteriorate to the point where people are talking “about” each other instead of talking “to” each other.

This can happen more easily than you might think.  For most people, when things don’t go the way they expect in a relationship, the tendency is to talk to EVERYONE they know EXCEPT the person they have the problem with.  Someone once told me that when you point your finger at someone, you have three more fingers pointing back at you–this is very true!

So, my advice (which–trust me–is based on years of experience and learning the hard way) when it comes to strengthening and maintaining healthy relationships, particularly relationships with your referral partners, is to talk “to” each other not “about” each other. If you have a problem with someone in your life, pick up the phone and call them right now.  Ask to meet and talk to them about your concerns and, most importantly, how you can both resolve the challenges or issues you’re experiencing and get back to a positive place in the relationship.  Stay “solutions focused”–don’t even attempt to get into the “blame game.”

Now that I’ve explained my perspective which is a result of my experience, I’d like to ask you–the BusinessNetworking.com blog readers–about your experience.

Tell me about a time in your life when you  either spoke to someone and ended up working out your issue(s) OR, about a time when you didn’t and the issue(s) in your relationship got worse and worse.  You’re among friends . . . both situations have happened to the best of us. 😉

International Networking Week February 2011

Dr. Ivan Misner, Founder and Chairman of BNI (Business Network International, the world’s largest business networking organization) speaks about the 5th Annual International Networking Week, which is February 7-11, 2011. It is a week which is centered around helping businesses in every part of the world achieve growth and success through effective networking.

Sorting Out Who’s Who

So, let’s say you’ve just returned from a networking event where you met a lot of new people and now you have a pocketful of business cards that you’re not sure what to do with.  What’s your first order of business?  Your first order of business is to sort out who’s who.

You need to separate the people you think might become new clients or referral partners right now from the ones who might be valuable contacts sometime in the future but not right away.  Let’s call the first group your A list, the rest your B list.  (Sounds kind of Hollywood, doesn’t it? :))  When you enter them into your contact database, labeling each contact as part of group “A” or “B” would be good to include (along with type of business, address, phone number, event where you met, etc.).

Now that you’ve got your contacts filed away neatly, take a look first at your B list. You want these folks to know you enjoyed meeting them, and you want to keep the door open for doing business with them later on if a good opportunity arises.  You can do this with a quick note by either e-mail or snail mail.* If you find you need to reconnect with one of these people at a later time, you’ll at least have some traction in the relationship simply because you followed up with a quick e-mail.

Now, what about your A list? These are people who have immediate potential as referral partners.  You need to follow up with them quickly–within a few days, before you drop off their radars.  First, initiate a “coffee connection” with each of your new contacts, a follow-up meeting where you can get to know her and find out how you can help her.  Anything short of trying to find ways to help her will generally be treated as a sales call instead of a relationship-building contact.  To ask for this first meeting, either a handwritten note or an e-mail is acceptable.*

At this point, you may be asking, “What about the people I meet who aren’t potential clients and aren’t in a field that can refer business to me?  Should I follow up with them anyway?” Absolutely!  You never know whom other people know; even a quick little “Nice to meet you” e-mail is better than not doing anything at all and hoping these people remember you later when you discover a need to do business with one of them.

Now that you know how to sort out who’s who, be sure to do this each and every time with the business cards you gather in your daily networking activities and, I guarantee you, you will start to see greater results from your networking efforts.

*Come back on Thursday to read a blog entry with specific examples of what your follow up notes to group A contacts and group B contacts should say–I’ll give you two free follow-up note templates so you’ll have no excuses for not following up with your new contacts.  Trust me, following up couldn’t be any easier than this!


Don’t Make This Mistake at Your Next Networking Event

If you were sitting in an important meeting with your biggest client and you got a text message, would you stop listening to your client and completely tune him out in order to respond to the text message?

What if you got a phone call . . . would you stop mid-presentation as you were pitching your most important client about your newest product in order to answer the call??  Of course you wouldn’t!  That would be a blatantly rude move on your part and it would put your most valued client relationship at risk.

So, why in the world would anybody ever even consider looking at their mobile phone during a networking meeting?? Make no mistake, a good reason for looking at, picking up, or using your mobile phone in any way during any type of networking meeting does not exist!

One of the fastest ways to ruin your credibility and earn yourself a reputation as being rude, unprofessional, and undeserving of referrals is to use your mobile phone during a networking meeting. It virtually screams to your networking partner(s): I don’t care what you have to say because I have better things to do right now and this meeting is not worth my time.

If you want results from your networking efforts, which I’m assuming you do if you’re reading this blog, then that is the last thing you would ever feel about or  say to anyone in your network.  But, if you’re using your mobile phone during meetings with people in your referral network, I promise you–not only is that the exact message you are sending them, you’re also wasting their time and yours.

So, do yourself a favor and check your phone one last time before your networking meeting . . . check that it is completely turned off and don’t turn it back on until you leave the meeting.  Remember, networking meetings and mobile phones don’t mix!

The Importance of Knowing Your Products and Services

When your referral marketing plan is working well, prospective customers buy from you the first time because they have been referred by your sources. They may continue to buy from you because they trust you and develop a good relationship with you.  But whatever the reasons they come and whatever the reasons they stay, they are your customers primarily because they need your products and services.

A clear idea of your range of products and services is something your sources need to communicate to prospects. For each product or service you plan to market during your referral marketing campaign, you must be able to articulate for your sources the answers to the following questions:

  • What is the purpose of your product or service?–What needs does it satisfy?
  • How would you describe it?–What are its shape, size, functions, key features, principal activities, benefits?
  • How is your product or service delivered to the customer?
  • How much does it cost and under what conditions?

There are other questions concerning your products or services that you should answer for your own strategic purposes. Is your product becoming obsolete?  Is there a newer or better way to provide the same service?  What are the social and environmental effects of your product or service?  Will economic or regulatory trends force you to change your products or services or the conditions under which you provide them?  In the long term, will you be satisfied to continue to offer these products or services?

Knowing the answers to the questions above will help you clearly communicate your products and/or services to your referral sources.  This is extremely important because only when you’re able to do this will your referral sources be able to effectively refer business to you.

What’s the Payoff for Developing an Effective Word-of-Mouth Strategy?

Developing an effective word-of-mouth strategy that results in a strong referral-based business takes endless time, energy, effort and, above all, commitment. The actions and steps necessary to create a successful referral-networking campaign are simple, yet far from easy; they take tremendous dedication and drive, and results can be a long time in coming.

So why should you put forth the time and effort to develop a word-of-mouth strategy for your business?  Because, if you commit to doing it right and don’t give up, the payoff can be unbelievably high.

In fact, many businesses have become so adept at referral marketing that they get most of their sales through referrals and spend little or no money on advertising — and they never have to place cold calls. Some of these businesses hire most of their employees through referrals, manage complex financing arrangements and even procure necessary products through referral contacts they have cultivated for many years.

But a referral-based business can reward you in ways beyond those measured in dollars. Dealing with people you like and trust is a better way to live and work than sparring with strangers all day long. You may even find the relationships you form with your referral sources more important than the dollars your new customers bring you. Such relationships are central to both the referral-generation process and the satisfaction you derive from your work.

So, the next time you find yourself doubting whether your networking efforts are really worth it, remember: If you don’t give up, and you continually devote yourself to working on making your word-of-mouth strategy better and better, the payoff can be enormous both financially and in terms of happiness in business and life.

Expanding Your Overall Sphere of Influence

The foundation of any word-of-mouth marketing effort is people.  Your sphere of influence represents the overall number of people with whom you network. These are people you know either very well or as casual acquaintances.  To evaluate your sphere of influence, take inventory of the people you already know.

Surprisingly, many people have never established effective networking relationships with others they’ve known for a long time.  Preparing your inventory is as simple as asking yourself, “Whom do I know?” or, “Who knows me?” This includes everyone with whom you interact or might interact with, personally or professionally:

  • Clients
  • Business associates
  • Vendors
  • Creditors
  • Employees
  • Friends
  • Family members
  • Others

Go through your software database, e-mail contacts, Rolodex, mobile phone contacts and business card collection. Discard the names of all people who have moved on or with whom you’ve lost touch. Analyze your relationships with the ones you feel are still current. Ask yourself, “How well do I know them?” Then determine whether each individual is a Strong Contact (a close associate with whom you will network actively) or a Casual Contact (an acquaintance with whom you will network passively).

Remember, the more people you network with actively, the greater your sphere of influence will be.

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