Tag Archives: networking

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.

Develop Your Networking Relationships

two-people1Business people spend a lot of time networking, some times it is important to slow down and develop relationships with the people that you have added to your network.  In the book “The 29% Solution” by Dr. Ivan R Misner and Michelle Donovan, they discuss tactics for building better relationships with your network members.  The more we get to know our network members the more credibility we build with them.

Here are 5 questions to ask your network member that will allow you to develop a deeper relationship.

1.  What would yo like to accomplish with your business this year?

2.  What are your challenges this year?

3.  What is standing in the way of your meeting yur goals?

4.  How can I help you?

5.  What do you need to help you be successful?

Pay attention to what you hear, make notes and set out to help your network member.  It is important to spend time working on your network instead of doing more networking.  The deeper you develop your network the more valuable it becomes.

Ladies, Ask for What you Want

4-people-talking1

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.

Not for Profits Need to Network Too

Business Networking & Fundraising

Business Networking & Fundraising

All things being equal people want to do business with people they know, like and trust.  That includes Not For Profit Organizations.

I am speaking a the AFP or Association of Fundraising Professionals on Friday.  I am the opening act in a line up of highly professional speakers on the topic of Social Networking, or Web 2.0.

I will be speaking about how Online Networking enhances your Face to Face networking and builds stronger networking relationships.   But, I am a little perplexed, I am not sure that many Fundraising or Not for Profits really do face to face networking.  I have met very few of them at a BNI meeting or at a Rainmakers meeting.  Thinking of the chamber events I go to, I meet few if any of them there.  So, I ask myself why don’t I ever meet them?  Where are they networking?  Do they network? Are they meeting the Small Business Owers, or are they just looking for the big guys?

Gleaners Food Bank is an example of a Not for Profit that networks face to face and does it well.  They are active in BNI and have even taken leadership positions in their chapter and in the region.  Because of their participation, many BNI members have taken tours, BNI Indiana does an annual fundraiser for them.  We learned that Gleaners does not just feed the hungry,  they help pantries around the state feed the hungry.  Not just the hungry but children who get backpacks of food and senior citizens who get food delivered to them.

They have gotten volunteers, like Stacie Shipley with JNS Electric who delivers senior boxes for them every week.  They have create positive word of mouth when the had Aaron Prickle of Lushin Associates take a tour so he could understand what they really do, and he now clears up a lot of misconceptions that he and many of his associates were once under.  Victoria has educated a lot of BNI members about the organization all because she believes in face to face networking.  Unfortunately they have embraced less of the Social Networking.

The Indianapolis Human Society has done a good job with social networking, I see them on Smaller Indiana and on Twitter, but I have never met anyone from the humane society at networking meeting.

If you are a NFP or a Fundraising Professional it is important to understand that people want to volunteer and donate to people they KNOW, LIKE and TRUST.  Getting out to business networking events are important activities, it allows people to get to know you and your mission, to build a relationship, to volunteer, to spread word of mouth and to be advocates.

Using Social Media to amplify those relationships is the icing on the cake.  It is a new economy and everyone is holding on to their dollars, it is time for Fundraisers to come out of the offices and board rooms and meet the small business people in the community.  After all small business owners want to help, they are the fastest growing sector of the economy, but they also want to know who they are helping and why.  They want to meet you face to face.

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.

Twitter and My Network

twitterI am not a Techie but I do love technology and more than that, I love to network.  When I can combine the two together I am really happy.  Twitter has allowed me to do that!  One of the keys to nurturing your network is to stay in communication.  Communication also allows you to develop relationships that you can add to your network.  Twitter allows me to  maintain visibility and create credibility with my network.  Recently it has allowed me to create some profitability.

Here are some tips for those of you who want to use Twitter in your networking strategy.  These are a few things that you should know, beyond that have fun.

Important Things to Remember When Using Twitter

  • Be Authentic- Be you
  • Read Others Profiles and Tweets
  • Find Local People to Follow – Use Search for your town or city
  • Follow those who follow you – after you read their profile
  • Send a Personal Direct Message (DM)  to those who follow you
  • Do more than post your Blog or your website to the tweet stream
  • Retweet Others- Retweeting is key, when you read a good tweet, RT
  • Try to keep your follow/followers about even
  • Read and Comment on others Tweets/Blogs
  • Recommend others to follow
  • Keep it positive
  • Engage and again be Authentic
  • Go to some Local Tweetups & meet the people you have been tweeting with.
  • Follow your Network Members, you are able to communicate more frequently with them.
  • Lean more by following links that your followers will often provide.

Most of all, have fun, don’t become addicted, but be consistent in your tweets. You will find that you are starting to build relationships with some of the people you do not know and enriching those that you do.