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Archive for February 2019

Are you frustrated with your networking results?

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“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~~Albert Einstein

If you have ever felt that the time spent networking was wasted I submit that it is not the activity itself with the problem. Rather it is your intent and/or your event. Amateur networkers experience this often and heed Dr. Einstein’s observation by simply discontinuing the practice. They are not crazy—just fed up.

This week let’s consider a more effective strategy to improve your own networking results.

The best place to initiate a change is from within so we will start there, as well. What was your intent in attending the last networking event that frustrated you? If it was to collect as many business cards as possible I imagine you hit that target well. And yet, it was completely unsatisfactory. Later that night you pulled out of your bulging pocket many new contacts–and did not know what to do next. Insanely you did what you always did. That is, you robotically keyed each one into your database and methodically sent a generic email to everyone. This is high effort with low return. Feels a little like insanity to continue, doesn’t it? It is like throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping some will eventually stick.

Sadly, some will stick. Some connections strip mined from a loosey-goosey networking event may eventually become the perfect person to accelerate your business. I say sadly because this fools people into doing more of the same. Hello, Albert!

Consider this common model we are all familiar with that should illustrate what is happening. Some people do buy winning lottery tickets. That is what keeps the vast majority buying their own. The winner is in the ticket, though, not the purchaser. That ticket would have gone to someone anyway. The same is true in these lucky networking contacts. The success comes from the person you met—not you.

Rather than rely on hope change what you think to see better results. What is your intention in networking? I recommend taking two main goals in with you.

The first is to look for people that can help your current customers, prospects, or strategic alliances enjoy more success. Improve their life. Forget about helping yourself. You tried that and have many useless lottery tickets to show for that effort. Let’s say you are a Residential Realtor and one of your current buyers is looking for a new home they can downsize into now that they are empty-nesters. The kids are not only out of the house but out of college. Maybe they are avid golfers or indulgent pet owners. Look for someone who can help these people take a memorable golf vacation or can introduce them to a great pet spa or veterinarian. If successful, you won’t have a pocket full of business cards but will have one or two valuable contacts. Get to know them better. When comfortable you can introduce them to your clients. When they know you they can introduce you to their clients—some of whom may also be downsizing (or upsizing or whatever.)

The second intent is to look for people that can further your goals. Imagine you are a mortgage broker who has an excellent program to help people that have good income and no down payments get into their first home quickly. This may be ideal for someone who is just graduating from an expensive school and launching a lucrative profession. However, when they first come out of school they are saddled with large school loans and can’t even start shopping homes until they get a job offer. After that they can select the city and start the process and usually want to go fast. These may be doctors, lawyers, engineers, and so on.

Let’s imagine you do not have any contacts into these schools. (If you do, start there.) If not, network for these resources. You might look for people directly or indirectly associated with specific universities. (Here’s a hint—these schools probably have a calendar of events. That’s a very effective shortcut.) Barring that, you might instead network for people who have successfully negotiated that process already. That is, they graduated ten years ago and are now successful. Ask if they can help you understand the issues facing your intended target market. You may find your plan is not likely to succeed. This is okay since it saves time and lets you reshape the plan. You may find they are influential in the alumni association. This is wonderful as they may be perfect golden goose for your program. More likely you may wind up somewhere in the middle.

At any rate you will almost certainly find that your networking will be far more effective by changing your intent or your event. Welcome to networking sanity.

 

© 2019 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

 

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Written by bniguy

February 24, 2019 at 6:34 am

Take Inventory

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“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” ~~ William Shakespeare

It is assessment time. Inspect what you expect and take action to sharpen your strengths and augment your weaknesses.

Ivan Misner and Don Morgan surveyed more than two thousand business people throughout the US, UK, Canada, and Australia and compiled the results in Masters of Networking. These are the top ten traits of master networkers.

Do yourself a favor and pull out a sheet of paper. Number the rows 1 through 10. Leave a space for the description and run five columns down for your scores. For each trait below, rate yourself as follows:

  1. Never
  2. Rarely
  3. Sometimes
  4. Usually
  5. Always

Just for breathing you will score ten points. Therefore, I recommend reading each area and rating yourself conservatively. The score is entirely private so why not be as brutally honest as you can handle?

1: Follow-up. Timely follow-up on referrals is the number one trait of master networkers. This is important on so many levels but let’s consider a fear of loss component. The more you fail to follow-up the fewer opportunities you will receive. On the positive side of the equation is that you can follow-up while the opportunity is hot, enhance your referral partner’s reputation, etc.

2: Positive attitude. Positive attitudes are contagious and people want to associate with you. Conversely, a consistently negative attitude (no matter how justifiable it is to you) is a deterrent to productive relationships.

3: Enthusiasm and motivation. These two go well with the positive attitude. Many sales experts list enthusiasm as the best characteristic to display and we need to sell ourselves to our network. Enthusiasm does this and translates well to action.

4: Trustworthiness. In networking your reputation is your currency. Every transaction carries an implied (or stated) endorsement and you must guard that carefully. In some settings you are granted trust (certifications, for example.) In others it is only earned over time. In all cases it can unravel quickly. When setting an appointment—show up. You do not have to be an expert at everything—it is perfectly acceptable to acknowledge that you do not have the answer. However, if you promise to find one—do so in a timely manner.

5: Good listening skills. Focus on what the other person is saying rather than simply waiting for them to pause so you can jump in with your own comments. How well can you tune out the many distractions? How well do you remember new people’s names? Assess based on these concepts.

6: Commitment to networking 24/7. Master networkers are always tuned in to the many ways they can help their referral partners in a Giver’s Gain model—not only at mixers and after-hour events but at the gym, in the grocery line, etc.

7: Gratitude. This can manifest itself in many ways—thank you cards, testimonials, and simple acknowledgement whenever possible. The more you do this the more chances you will have.

8: Helpfulness. Master networkers know what help their partners need and actively seek out solutions.

9: Sincerity. Many of the traits above combine here. Being grateful and enthusiastic, for example, as well as demonstrating good listening skills. I like call waiting but never use it as an excuse to switch over from the call I am on. If ever in a situation where that might happen I let the person know before the chance occurs.

10: Dedicated. The master networker is dedicated to working their network. This manifests by having a current, complete database; by carrying their referral partners’ business cards and materials along with their own; and by holding frequent, regular get-togethers for strategy and follow-up.

Trust me; we will revisit these concepts in future posts. I recommend reviewing the baseline today and setting strategies to improve those areas most in need. Come back every ninety days and reassess. When you return consider examples and measurements to deepen your skills, as well.

 

© 2019 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

 

Written by bniguy

February 17, 2019 at 8:46 am

Who’s Who to You

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“Business is not just doing deals; business is having great products, doing great engineering, and providing tremendous service to customers. Finally, business is a cobweb of human relationships.” ~~ Ross Perot

We’ve all heard the expressions, “It is best to have an attitude of gratitude,” or “no man is an island” or “it takes a village” or “there is no ‘I’ in ‘TEAM.” All of these reflect on the value of collaboration and how important our relationships are in life and in business.

How many people do you know? The typical person knows 250 others on a first-name basis. Master networkers go deeper than that and so can you if you consider everyone you ever knew. My grammar school experience was in a class of about thirty kids in the nineteen-sixties. From first grade through eighth we all stayed together, adding and losing a few along the way. This was many years ago and I estimate that fifteen kids were with me most of the way while another fifty or sixty revolved at four years or less. Each year we had one teacher all day and were with gym teachers, librarians, administration, lunch room people, janitors, etc. Our class moved like a bubble through this populated, shifting environment.

That is how all of our experiences are. Church. College. Military service. Career(s.) Hobbies. Neighborhoods. I can still name most of the fifteen that stayed with me in grammar school as well as most of the teachers, gym teachers, etc.

As a networker maintaining profitable relationships is essential. Relationships are sustained by frequent and recent contact. Managing this requires some form of dynamic database, including such elements as:

  • General contact info such as name, current address, phone number, email, company, industry, title, etc.
  • Who is important to them such as spouse, children, parents, etc?
  • Significant dates like birthdays, anniversaries, other milestones
  • Interest areas like hobbies, dreams, goals, etc.
  • Who they want to meet and how to introduce them
  • Significant accomplishments
  • What you can (and often) do for them
  • What they can (and often) do for you

I hope you can see the value in capturing this information. There are many tools to track this. Some people use software (Salesforce, ACT, or more sophisticated tools.) Some people use no-tech or low-tech tools like Rolodex™, business card files, notes, etc.

Your action this week is to take inventory of who’s who to you and begin tracking some of the significant elements noted.

© 2019 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

February 10, 2019 at 1:21 pm

Posted in database, HowTo

Givers Gain

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“Giving is better than receiving because giving starts the receiving process.” ~~Jim Rohn

Now that you have begun assembling a winning team, it is time to start working together as a unit. Have you ever seen the duplex with knee-high grass? Both owners are waiting for the other guy to get out the lawn mower and nothing gets done.

Starting new relationships that are planned to be mutually beneficial are a lot like that. Somebody has to make the first move. The best way to get things rolling is by giving. For example, give your strategic alliance partner an introduction to some of your customers.

I hope you understand why this is important and won’t skip that in case you don’t. Word-of-mouth recommendations are built on mutual trust. Trust is earned and the surest way you can earn it is by giving. Introduce your carpet cleaner to a customer that has a nasty old stain in their lobby. In the early stages of your relationship you might take the carpet expert onsite to assess the issue before the introduction. This is good for everyone. You are learning his business capabilities and do not want to overpromise. The important thing is to start giving. It will become easier and you will get better over time.

That leads to the second consideration. How? The carpet cleaner and the stain is a simple example. Start expanding what you see at every opportunity. Begin to look at the world through the eyes of your strategic alliance partner. Begin to look at the world through the eyes of your customer. Ask questions. How long have you used such-and-such service? How has that worked out? What do you like best? What would you change if you could?

Once you have a solution and can introduce the perfect person for the job you gain currency from your customer and the strategic alliance partner. Eventually, you will become the “go to” guy for all kinds of needs and can line them up or seek them out.

Be proactive and teach your fellow teammates to do the same.

I have two simple actions you can take this week that are easy and fun.

First, get a card file that will hold multiple copies of all their business cards. Some people turn them into brochures or collateral. That will be fine in the future. For now, let’s just stay simple and flexible. Get a card file and load ten cards for every resource partner you have.

Second, let your world know that you have these resources available. Put together a short introductory note and begin sending that out to everyone you know. Use a variety of media (letter, postcard, email, Facebook, etc.) Here’s an example:

 

Dear ____________:

Referrals to competent, credible professionals outside my area of expertise are one of the services I provide to all my customers.

Attached is a list of areas in which I know very ethical and professional experts. If you are looking for an outstanding individual in any of these areas, please let me know and it will be my pleasure to put you in touch with the people I know who provide these services.

Sincerely,

____________________

 

It is important that you only list professions, not names and contacts. You want your customer to go through you for the introductions. This lets you qualify the situation more completely, emphasize your support role, and make your customer’s (and strategic alliance’s) success more likely.

It won’t be long before this simple exercise bears some fruit and this will engage the other members of your team more actively, as well.

© 2019 by Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission of Stephen Hand of Triangle BNI.

Written by bniguy

February 5, 2019 at 6:33 am