Tag Archives: Relationships

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.

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.

Women are Natural Networkers

I have spent years networking with both men and women.  In that time I have noticed a lot of difference between how the two sexes network.  I have come to realize that Women  are really very natural networkers.

Building a strong network requires that you nurture the relationships that you have developed.  Women are very good at nurturing, they stop to do those little things that make others feel special.  They remember birthdays, they send cards, the give referrals and connections to others, and they volunteer to help whenever possible.

Women tend to be good listeners,  one of the most important traits of good networkers.  So they often hear the needs of others and seek to connect them to people who can fill those needs.  Acting as a matchmaker between the two.

Women understand and operate under the philosophy of givers gain naturally. They understand the old adage that it is better to give than to receive.  They are quick to give to others, they are quick to help, they are more than willing to introduce two people and help them to connect.

If you want to have a strong referral source in your network, ask a woman, she’s a natural.

Sometimes a Relationship is Not What it Seems

You know how sometimes you get involved in a relationship and you are sure that it is one thing only to find out it is really something else?  Women can certainly relate to this, they find themselves dating for a while and they believe they are in one kind of a relationship, headed down a road only to find out the other person took a different path because they thought they were in a different relationship.

It works the same way in business relationships too.  You meet someone, have a one to one meeting, find some common ground and believe that you are on your way to a productive business relationship.  You begin to practice givers gain, passing leads and referrals to the other person and after a few weeks or month you notice that it has become more of a one way relationship.  The relationship is entirely different than what you thought it was going to be and once again you find yourself in one way relationship. One person is getting what they want while the other person is doing the giving.

This happens most often when you do not have open, clear communications on an ongoing and consistent manner.  When there are no clear expectations communicated it causes confusion in the relationship.

If you want to develop a strong network it is important that you have clear communication, set expectations, and have a level of accountability for the relationships.  Making sure that all of you are on the same page is important if you are going to develop a strong networking team.

Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places

 Do you remember the old country western song about the guy going from place to place lookin for love? “I was lookin’ for love in all the wrong places, lookin’ for love in too many places.”

Frankly, this should be the theme song for many of the business professionals running from networking event to networking event. Unfortunately, it is a poor way to find love and an even worse way to find good referral partners.

 Many business people spend their time attending one networking event after another, looking for leads, prospects and connections. Collecting cards, adding names to their Rolodex, their mailing list and their email list. They repeat this activity over and over again because it’s the best plan they have.

 Before you go to your next networking event, make a plan. Here are a few things you may want to think about before you head out the door:

  • Set 3 Goals you want to achieve at this networking event?
  • Who is your target market and will they be at this event?

  • Who are your best referral sources and how will attending this event help them?

  • What is your follow up system after the event?

  • What activities will you use to build trust with your network?

  • What activities will you use to give to your network?

Instead of looking for new people to build referral relationships with, take a look at who you already network with. Maybe your time would be better spent digging deeper into your existing network and building stronger relationships instead of adding additional people to your network.

Love takes time, so does building a strong network of people who will refer business to you regularly. Before you walk out the door to do more networking make a plan, you may find that the love your lookin for is already in your network.

 

The Underestimated Rolodex

I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard the following scenario; “Gee, I visited that networking group and I didn’t see anyone in there who could really help me with referrals.  Most of the members there are consumer businesses and I am business to business.”  Surprisingly, it is most often said with a  hint of arrogance, as if the person is to important to take time out to network with the consumer folks.   What a deadly assumption to make about someone else’s network.

Paul, Laura and Mike would quickly agree with the statement, “Never underestimate the power of another persons network.”  After all one of the largest referrals that Paul has ever received came from Laura, the Mary Kay representative in his networking group. 

Paul is the Vice President of a very successful commercial design company, working with organizations like hospitals, casinos and office complexes.  He counts on people like Mike,  a fellow member and architect, to pass him referrals and he knows the value of a strong network. 

Imagine his surprise when one morning Laura calls him to pass a referral that would turn out to be a national  account. Not only would that one referral put substantial dollars into the company’s pocket, it would play a role in Paul’s eventual promotion to vice president. 

As with all Mary Kay professionals, Laura has learned to listen to the needs of her clients and help them to get what they need. This is a practice that has helped her become a master networker.  One particular afternoon Laura listened to one of her friends, manager of a restaurant, complain about how shoddy the construction was, and how poorly the structure was laid  out, it just did not  have a good flow! 

Right away Laura thought of Paul, he taught her that the flow of a building was one of the most important aspects of what he did when working on design for a company.  Laura told her friend about Paul and arranged a meeting with the two of them.   Paul closed the deal, did some work for the restaurant and left the owner very happy with the results.  When it came time for them open their third location they naturally called on Paul.

Paul was able to refer Mike, the architect in his network, who helped to design the next new building.  This referral also flowed to a stain glass designer, landscape designer, contractors, and various other professions.  Paul and his company were asked to head up the design of all of the future restaurants as well as the prototype for a new restaurant concept.

Now, step back and think about how many times you have made an assumption about another persons contacts and networks.  It could be costing you more than you know.  Referral relationships are built on trust and knowledge. Dr. Ivan R. Misner, the founder of BNI, says in his book  World Best Know Marketing Secret, that it is very important to have a diversified network.  Not only for the sake of the referrals that you may get from your network,  but you are also  able to fill the needs of your clients on a professional and personal level.

When I owned my Insurance Brokerage Agency, one of the last things that I would always ask a client at the end of a meeting was, “Mr. Client, thank you for taking the time to meet with me, I appreciate your time and attention.  Now, that we are finished, let me ask you, what is the one item that is really causing you a problem that I might be able to help you with.”  My clients learned that not only was I there for all of their professional needs, I could help them in many aspects of their lives.  Having a strong, diverse network allowed me to build strong relationships with my them, they new I would ask, they got in the habit of calling me, and they new that I could help them with almost any issue they might have. I became a Gatekeeper and the go to person. 

Having a diverse network made up of people in the consumer business helps more than just you.  Take a moment and look at your network, is it diverse?  Is there a cosmetic professional, a beautician, wedding planner, photographer, vet or other consumer services?  Just because they do not sell to businesses does not mean they do not know business owners or decision makers.  Never underestimate the power of another persons Rolodex you could regret it!