Tag Archives: connecting

Linkedin – A Great Tool When Used Right

linkedinOne of the most popular business tools in the Web 2.0 world is Linkedin. If you are not on Linkedin yet, I would highly encourage you to get there, set up a profile and start connecting with your network. More and more business networking and connecting are happening using Linkedin, it is a tool that makes it easier to connect your network. Here are several ways that you can effectively use Linkedin to help you save time, support your network, pass referrals, and set yourself apart as an expert.

1. Set up your profile – Make it complete, many people go to profiles to learn more about you and your business, what your experience is, as well as where you went to school, and who you know.

2. Put a professional photo on your profileLinkedin is not a “social” site, it is geared more for business and business people. Make sure that you are putting your best smile forward. If you do not have a professional photo get one!

3. Ask for recommendations – If you have done work for one of your clients or network members ask them if they would consider writing a recommendation for you. Last week I spoke at the BNI National Conference, several people asked me later what they could do for me. I asked each of them, if they had been in my presentation would they please go to my Linkedin Profile and write a recommendation. I asked them to list 2-3 things that they learned and why they would recommend me to others. In the Referrals for Life Program we teach our students how to write good testimonials for one another, a recommendation on Linkedin simply makes that testimonial public.

4. Invite your Network to Link – how many people do you have in your database? How many of them are already on Linkedin? Start connecting to them and invite the ones who are not on the site to join you. When you have your network on the site and you are linked to them it will make it so much easier to pass referrals and make connections between each other. You can make connections for one another on Linkedin. No more going through your CRM finding the information on a contact then emailing it. You can simply make connections on the Linkedin site.

5. Answer Questions – find questions that you can answer that will help you be seen as an expert. Because of a question that I answered on Linkedin, I was ask to speak on a conference call to a group of Female CEO’s. Find the questions on topics that you are expert in and answer them well. You can also use these same questions in your blog and newsletters.

Last week, one person in my network, connected me to someone in his network who had ask him if he would make the connection. After some conversation he ask me if I would consider speaking at the regional conference for his organization. I then connected him to someone that he saw in my network whom he thought would be good for a future speaking engagement.

Of all the sites that I am on, Linkedin is the one that makes it easy to connect my networks and help them to connect to one another, it is a perfect tool when you are in the Referrals for Life Program. Remember Linkedin is a tool that enhances, not replace your face to face networking.

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Ladies, Ask for What you Want

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Over the years I have developed a pretty deep network and one of the things that I spend a lot of time doing is up dating my database.  In the process of doing that this week I noticed that my strongest referral relationships are with guys.  So I began to think about that, why are there more males in my strong contact network instead of women and here are some of the things that I came up with.

When I sit down with a guy to build a referral relationship the conversation tends to be straight forward.  When I ask the question, “What can I do to help you grow your business?”  They almost always have a response.   They let me know exactly what it is I can do; “You can help me get more speaking engagements” or “If you do a newsletter it would be great if you would let me put an article in it.”

On the other hand if when I sit down with a female referral source and ask the same question I am often given this response; “I can’t think of anything but if I do I will let you know.”

Women seem to be challenged at knowing what they need and asking others to help them.  We feel that we cannot ask others to do things for us.  After all, have been raised to believe that it is our responsibility to take care of others, we do things for our spouses, our children, our family members even our co-workers.

One of the tough things for women to do it is ASK for what they want, clearly, succintly without guilt.  It is something that we really must learn if we are ever going to be good at leveraging our networks.  Keep in mind, we are not going to ask anyone for anything that we wouldd not do in return for them if they would ask.

Take a moment and ask yourself the following questions:

1.  What 2-3 things could I ask others to do to help me?  If you know in advance what kinds of things your networking members can do for you it will be easier for you to ask them when you are sharing a cup of coffee.

2.  List 3-4 people you would like to meet or be connected to.  Your network members are happy to connect you if you ask for someone specifically instead of “Anyone who needs my services.”  These might be professionals you want to add to your network, possible referral sources or potential clients.

3.  Make a list of the 4-5 people who might be willing to help you.  Most likely these are people in your network whom you have a relationship with.  They are people whom you are also willing to help if they ask you to.

It is important that you ask for what you want, there are members of your network who are more than happy to help you but they will not figure it out for you or take the initiative.  Our beliefe that “If they like me or if I do a good job for them, they will help me, refer me or connect me” hurts us.  We get what we ask for, if we wait for people to help us it may never happen.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself About Social Networking

Social NetworkingLinkedin, Twitter, FastPitch, BizNik,  Ecademy, Plaxo, HiveLive, Facebook, MySpace, and any of the 500 different sites online are all available to you if you choose to network online. However, how many and which ones should you belong to?

I am often asked  if I am able to track back any income from the social networking sites that I am on.  I am certain that I have indeed generated exposure and branding and I have been able to generate referrals for others in my network because of my membership.  I can track income because I have booked 2 speaking engagements via the sites.  and a couple of new coaching clients.  That being said, does the income match the time spent.

I do know that I easily spend at least ten minutes per day six days per week on the site for a total of one hour weekly.  At my current billing rate that is $125 per week multiplied by 52 weeks for a total of $6500. On average most people belong to 5 social networking sites, doing the same math above for all 5 sites I would spend a total of $32,500 per year on my social networking site.

Therefore, the question is how much is too much.  It really depends on what results you are trying to achieve in your activities.  I recently had a man who paints homes ask me if he should be on all of these sites promoting his business. If he were going to join one or two sites, which ones should he choose?   Here are the five tips that I gave to him.

1.  Find a local networking site, for instance, I am on Smaller Indiana. This would allow him to promote his business to people who might be willing to hire him.  Smaller Indiana is predominately people in Indiana who are in a variety of businesses.  Not for Profits, Professional Services, Business Owners, and Employees of companies are all members of this site.  The key is, they are local, so I can sit down and have a cup of coffee with anyone of them at any time and build a stronger relationship.

2.  Find an online networking group that has people with common interest.  Ning has a variety of these kinds of networks.   On Linkedin I belong to a Group that is made up of other BNI Directors.  We are able to share information, help one another and arrange to meet with each other at conferences.  I may or may not generate new business from this site, but I am able to build stronger relationships with those who are members because we have a common interest.

3.  Know why you want to join the group. Is it for information, connections, to sell your product or services, to develop your expertise or just to socialize?   I am a member of Ecademy.  This is the only group where I actually spend money to be a member.  Ecademy has a very international flavor and I want to make connections with people who can help me land more speaking engagements in the UK.  Last year when I spoke in Bristol, England, I had the opportunity to meet several of the people I had been networking with online.

4.  How much time do you want to spend online?  Online networking takes time just like face to face networking.  If your intention is to be known as an expert, you will have to spend time online blogging, spend time in discussions and commenting on other blogs.  Do the math, even if you are not paying to be on the site, you are paying in valuable time.

5. Free or Fee?  Most sites like Linkedin have a Free and a Premium membership. With the exception of Ecademy I am on the free memberships for all other sites.  Try the 30-day free trial that most sites offer, if you like it and want to get more involved, then you can purchase up.  Ecademy has two different levels that you can purchase; power networker and black star each are vastly different both in price and in access to the network.  I recommend the lowest priced level to start and once you know for sure that you are going to be consistent and use the site, then consider moving up.  Otherwise, it is like joining a gym; you make the payments every month and never go.

Just like face-to-face networking, you can waste a lot of valuable time and money if you do not have a plan and a system to utilize your network.  For me this is Visibility Networking, and some Credibility Networking.  I have been able to connect others in very powerful ways and that goes a long way to building trust with those I have made connections for.

If you are going to jump into this arena, you must have realistic expectations.

Make it easy for your referral sources

If you want to get more referrals from people in your network, you have to be able to make it easy for them to find and give those referrals to you.   They want to help you, but most will not step out of their comfort zone to make it happen,

Here are 5 things to help you start the process of making it easy;

1. What should I listen for? I am with people all of the time, and many of them are complaining about something, or sharing great news, or contemplating a decision. Each of these conversations present opportunities to develop referrals for you.

2. What visual clue might I see that would lead me to recommend or refer you? Are there things that are common to signals that a person might need you? Such as someone who’s car has a dent in it and you are an auto body shop owner.

3. Are there things that I might see that would help me recognize someone as your target market? Like a motor cycle or boat in a drive way for the insurance agent.

4. What kind of things might be happening that would lead me to believe that someone is in the market for your services? A child being born, and child going to college, or a new business that just opened?

5. Is there an activity that you clients often engage in? Such as running in mini-marathons, jogging, bike riding, working out, skiing, or any number of activities that would help me identify our clients?

The more you can paint a picture for your network members the easier it is going to be for them to help you. Unfortunately, this means that you have to give some thought to what and who you are looking for as clients. Anybody or everybody will not be as effective. Profile you clients and teach your network members how to spot the clues.

What were they thinking – 4 Biz Card Don’ts

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business cards

I went to a networking event last week, and it was really a very good event, lots of vendors, lots of people in attendance and a great deal of networking going on.  But the one thing that I found very interesting was the very large table going down the center of one of the rooms.  On this table were hundreds of stacks of business cards and people were going around the table picking cards up from each of the stacks.  As I watched this go on, I had to ask myself; “What are they going to do with all of those cards that they are gathering?”

We become annoyed when people cold call us, we gripe, we complain and we sneer at the people calling us, but we put our cards out there for the taking.  Doesn’t laying your cards out on a table just cry out to others that you are open to be solicited? I know, I know, you thought that by having your business cards out there they were going to sell something for you,  not to you, right?

The next most common complaint that I hear from people everyday is the amount of Spam Email that they get.  Don’t you think that when you are laying your business cards out on a table for people to just pick up randomly you are asking to be put on a mailing list.

Here are 4 things that I do not recommend that you do with your business cards

1.  Don’t lay them out on a table so that others can just randomly pick them up.  There is no value in having a lot of people who have never met you, had a conversation with you or shaken your hand taking a bunch of your cards.

2.  Don’t put your cards on a bulletin board in the grocery store.  Let me ask you a question, have you ever made an appointment with a financial planner who’s card you pulled off of a bulletin board?  If you are the Financial Planner is this the level of clientele that you are really looking for?

3.  Don’t give your card to people who have not asked for it.  I go to networking event on occasion and I am amazed at how many people give me their business cards without ever having a conversation or little conversation with me.  Make sure that people ask for the card before you start handing them out.

4.  Don’t go around the room and lay one of your business cards all the way around the table.  I often see people lay their cards stuck in an ink pen with their logo around the tables of a networking event.  They want to make sure that everyone has their card.

Your business card is an extension of you and your business, it is the one thing that you leave behind that allows me to follow  up with you.  But, it does not sell anything and it does not create a relationship with me, that requires that you and I get face to face.

If you want to just randomly hand your cards out at least you should get something for it, so you can drop them into fish bowls and win free meals, free gym memberships, makeovers or a free financial reviews.  Just don’t be aggravated when you get cold called or spammed.

Learn Somthing New

If you are not growing you are dying! Part of growing is the act of learning something new, consistently.   So, let me ask you, what are you learning that is new right now?

I am an avid seeker of knowledge, I hated school and wasted a scholarship, but I love to learn.  It is my goal to learn something new all the time, this year it is Spanish.

I have decided to learn Spanish,  so I am hosting Spanish Classes in my Referral Institute training center.   I invited several hundred people to join me in learning Spanish.  I figure there is this whole population of people whom I cannot network with effectively and that means I am losing business to people who can connect with them.  I thought other business people would feel the same way, but that has not been the case.  Of the 600 people I invited to participate, only 10 showed up to learn.

What a pity, what an opportunity loss.  It is so vital that we find new markets, new networks, new connectors and influencers and new ways of doing business.  Still no one was interested in this opportunity to expand their knowledge and their businesses.

Those same people who spent so much time telling me they could not afford the time, or the money are the very same people who will tell me six months from now, that they don’t have any business, or business is slow.

If you are going to stay in business, you need to learn something new, like Social Networking, Web 2.0, Spanish, how to get in front of more prospects or how to close more deals.  Because those who are learning will out perform you and your customers might become theirs.

Unfortunately,  many business people spend more time telling me what they can’t do instead of finding ways to figure out what they can do.

Now is not the time to pull back on investing in yourself, your company and your staff.  Now more than ever it is important to learn something new!  Money and time invested in yourself and your team is always money well spent.

Spend Time Working Your Network

Have you ever asked a referral partner to introduce you to a contact they have only to be put off or not introduced at all? Did you wonder why? You might be surprised to know, that your referral partner did not have the same level credibility as the level referral you were asking for.

I once had a referral partner who boasted a very large database, we decided to sit down and do a little identifying out of each other’s databases. He had great contacts in his database but when I began to rate the level of referral I was looking for against the level of relationship he had with the contact, there was great disparity.

He quickly realized that his network was wide, but not very deep and he had some work to do to build higher levels of credibility with some of the people in his database. You see he spent most of his time networking, very little time working his network. Once, he had done some of that work, he became a much better referral partner.

Having a very wide network that is only an inch deep does not make you a solid referral partner. If you spend time, working your network instead of being out there networking you will create a much deeper network. One that will produce results for both you and your referral partners.