How to Run your Networking into the Ground

Many people misunderstand and/or misuse networking. They attend a networking event to get business, to make a sale, to collect business cards then spam and/or otherwise hound people into purchasing their product or service. The problem with that is that it pushes people away, not only from the networker, but from the network, as well; and it is patently counter to the intention and spirit of networking.  

Many networkers lack a vision for their networking, too. With no vision there is no plan, no objectives, and no strategy.

Lastly, many networkers lack commitment and consistency in their networking efforts.

So, how do you run your networking into the ground:

  • Go to a networking event to work the room, collect cards, and hound the people from whom you have collected cards into buying your products and services
  • Engage in random acts of networking with no vision, plan or objectives
  • Hit all the Meetups/networks without choosing 3 – 5 to commit to, and attend regularly

Plain and simple: Networking is about building relationships! It takes time, commitment, and consistency. It is a way of “business life.”  It must be scheduled into your regular business activities just like client appointments, and other important activities and tasks.

A Brief History about networking: The rise of the Industrial Revolution, and doing business across countries brought a need for collaboration and alliances in business. Good Old business Boys would get together and share information, resources, and “hook each other up.”  Finding the value in networking, networks evolved over the years, and have remained a crucial part of business, and business success. 

Networking is about building relationships!

Networking is about building relationships!

The curse and gift of networking: The quality of your network depends on the quality of your connections, and relationships. Plain and simple, building relationships takes time—time that many people claim to not have. Good, quality networking also costs money. The payoff, on the other hand, cannot be measured. Relationships are built, personally and professionally that pay untold dividends over the years in many ways that go beyond just the money. Friendships are born, deep bonds are fused, and thousands upon hundreds of thousands of dollars are “traded” through networking and referrals.

But, it all takes time: At the heart of a good connection is trust. That takes time to build. It starts by showing up, finding rapport then building on that rapport. As we build rapport we open our heads, hearts, and eventually our rolodex’s to each other. 

One last thought: Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, the largest international business network in the world, maintains that with just 4 – 8 well-trained, active, referral partners an individual can sustain a steady flow of clients, and have a profitable business. Where do you find those referral partners, in your community? In your networks, of course . . . So let’s get NETWORKING!

5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Business Networking

You may have heard it said that when it comes to networking the fortune is in the follow-up . . .

But how do I get started?

As human-beings we are social animals yet the majority of people I speak to shy away from networking because they feel intimidated.  They feel timid because they don’t know how to “start the conversation,” move it along, gracefully end it or how to convert a lead to a client.   

Start Business Networking

The first two steps to Jumpstart Your Networking are about what NOT to do as well as what to do . . .  

  • DON’T network to get an immediate client.  That is a limited way of thinking. It creates unnecessary pressure, and puts most people off.  Go to meet people, build relationships and grow your network. Clients WILL come later, through your follow-up efforts, and personal connection.
  • Don’t wait for people to come to you at a networking event.  Take the lead and approach them yourself.  Start by looking for someone who is standing alone.  If you could read their thought bubble it would probably say, “I’m really nervous about being here.” Or, “Gawd, I wish someone would come and talk to me.”

If you can’t find someone standing alone look for a group of three or more. There is less of a chance that they are having an intimate conversation. But alas, you are there to network. So, NETWORK! Jump in somewhere and start.  Trust yourself, and move through those scary “newbie” fears.

  • Before you go, spend time thinking about how you will introduce yourself.  At minimum be prepared to share your name, business name and why you are at the networking event (beyond getting clients). *See sample introduction template below.
  • Know your follow-up strategy.
  • Look for 1 – 3 people who you feel a connection with and follow-up with them—not to sell, but to get further acquainted—after the event. While you are talking to them, at the event, schedule a one-on-one.

There you have it. 5 Steps to Jump-start Your Business Networking and start the conversation: Go to build relationships. Take the initiative. Have a plan. Know how to introduce yourself, and FOLLOW-UP! This strategy can not only ease the nervousness that often accompanies networking and follow-up, it can also bring you a more worthwhile ROI (Return on your Investment) and grow your community, too.

Sample introduction template:  “Hi. My name is ­­­­­­____________. I am the (title)_____________ of (business name) ______________________. I help people __________________________. How did you learn about (name of networking group) _________________________________. 

Mindful Significance

(Lessons From a Five Year Old)

As I sit here in my hotel room, “everything going wrong,” and my temperature

Photo is property of Christine @ Pretend Photographer

Photo is property of Christine @ Pretend Photographer

rising,  I am taken to a value that I stand for with my children:  Nothing has meaning, but the meaning you give it, I tell them, especially when they are being challenged.

From birth until our passing we are experiencing, processing, and giving meaning to life. Early on we are programmed to trust the meaning that other people put on things, situations, and experiences.  Someone tells us this object is a hat, and that object is a house. They tell us when it’s cold, and when it is hot, what food to like, what people to dislike, and on and on. All of that is well and good, but they also tell us how we should feel, what’s good, and what’s bad, what’s right and what’s wrong.

To a certain degree that is good, but when our own sense of right and wrong, good and bad, and individual ‘sense of things’ gets overruled by our programming then it becomes a problem.

A very dramatic experience/story comes to mind to help make this point. When my youngest son was in kindergarten we had the opportunity to attend a joint event with his homeroom teacher and a teacher from another class.  Half way through the event, and seemingly out of nowhere, he said to me, “Mommy, she is beautiful.”  I looked to see who he was talking about.  Shaking my head, I asked “who?”  He pointed to the other teacher.  This took me totally by surprise because said teacher weighed over 300 pounds, and had a second chin 1/3 the size of her face.  I sat, shocked, and quiet.  Judgments swept through my conscious mind, and I tried to understand the discrepancy between what he said, and what I saw, and thought.  I did not tell him that he was wrong, and I became painfully aware of the shallowness of my judgments.

Fortunately, he had not yet been brain washed about what was physically  “un-beautiful.” He did not watch TV, and he wasn’t exposed to other mediums that layer in values of what is and what isn’t attractive.  It took me a while to figure out what this meant.  I did not jump to a conclusion, but sat, actually, for years with this unsolved memory, and experience.  I would visit it from time to time with wide-eyed curiosity.

Then one day it hit me:  He was seeing her through his spiritual eyes.  He wasn’t even looking at her physical representation, but right through it, to her soul.  When this occurred to me, I was awestruck.  I knew that he was living the better life, unencumbered by such programming, and judgments, and I decided then and there that I wanted what he had.  I wanted to see the world anew, free from the programming of commercials, teen peer pressure, TV, other people’s opinions, and my moreover, from my former set of prejudices and opinions.

That lesson has stayed with me.  Sometimes I get bogged down in the drama, the routine, the expectations, the disappointments, but as quickly as I can, I pause and remind myself that I have the power to update my opinion, and change the meaning I give to any situation. This not only takes me out of the victim position, it puts me in the driver’s seat of my life—a position I prefer to occupy.

In closing, I leave you with this invitation:  Pause in various situations, especially one’s of challenge, (mild challenges to start) and ask yourself:  What meaning am I giving this?  Is that the only meaning available for this situation?  If I were to take FULL responsibility for my life, in an empowered way, what other meaning could I give it? And then, stay open to the next best version of yourself to offer you a new meaning?

 

What is a Mastermind

 

 

What is a Mastermind:
A mastermind is a group of two or more individuals committed to a specific project or goal.

The concept of the mastermind was passed down from Andrew Carnegie, and made popular by Napoleon Hill.  In his book Think and Grow Rich, Hill defined it as a “coordination of knowledge and effort, in a spirit of harmony, between two or more people, for the attainment of a definite purpose.”

Since he published his book, in 1937, the idea of mastermind groups has grown, and has exploded in the new millennium.  Most, if not all, successful people belong to at least one.

Napoleon Hill went so far as to say there is a mystical quality formed when a mastermind group is created: “No two minds ever come together without, thereby, creating a third, invisible, intangible force which may be likened to a third mind,” he said.

In other words, our capacity, ability, resourcefulness, and creativity, multiplies when we tap that invisible “third mind.”

What is a mastermind:

  • A collaboration of contributing individuals
  • A progressive support network
  • A think tank
  • A Powerful Creative Resource

Benefits of belonging to a mastermind:

  • Instant access to a diverse set of skills, knowledge, and expertise
  • Brainstorming on steroids
  • Team
  • Support
  • Inspiration
  • Motivation
  • Synergy
  • Varying Perspectives
  • Varying Input
  • Valuable feedback
  • Direction
  • Accountability
  • Answers
  • Ideas
  • The resourcefulness and creativity of the Third Mind

There are basically two types of masterminds. Originally, a mastermind was developed to further the vision and mission of a collaborative project or venture.  More recently it has expanded to include multiple people, with their own vision and mission, whereby the group supports each individual in their individual needs.

Trust, mutual respect, and presence are key components, paramount to creating the synergistic connection required to fully tap that third mind.  So, take care in choosing your mastermind team.

 

 

How to Network Like Practical Pig

 

It’s about the Relationships: Networking, whether you are on a social media platform or at an “in person venue” should always be about building relationships!  Strategic alliances and business will follow.  I say this every month at The Enchanted Woman monthly networking luncheon, and as I walk about the room, I still hear many of the guests  introducing themselves  in that “get clients now” kind of way.

Gone are the days of “working the room,” shoving a business card or flyers in someone’s face, and gathering business cards for your personal gain.  As the founder of a network, I still see this.  I also see how most people respond. Likewise, I have been told by the more accomplished networkers that those cards go into their “yeah, no” or “thanks for the warning” stack.  So, while VERY few people would say something out loud, most people are put off by this aggressive behavior . . . DON’T DO IT!

Value your connections:  People by nature are social animals.  We like to connect.  We want to be respected and valued.  We want to be “seen,” and we NEVER want to be treated as though we are a means to an end or a wallet.

The wisdom of Practical Pig:  Do you remember the story of the 3 pigs?  Two of them built their houses quickly:  one with straw, the other from sticks.  When the big bad wolf came along, he huffed and he puffed and he blew their houses down.

As the two pigs built their quick rise structures, Practical Pig commenced to build a house of brick and stone.  The other two pigs laughed because they were done long before he even finished his foundation.  But, they didn’t laugh when his house was the only one left standing; when his was the only one that could withstand the test of time, and all seasons.

Unfortunately/Fortunately:  Yes! This type of networking DOES take more time. But, it also builds a quality network; one that will serve you for a lifetime.  The “poach a group to get immediate clients” approach might get you a sale or two, but it won’t get you loyal, life-long clients/customers.  It won’t get you strategic alliances, or referral partners, either.   So, if you want to build a quality network where people return to do business with you, refer you to their family and friends, and most importantly where you value each other, and build friendship, then you are going to have to invest the time upfront to build the relationship, and trust.

The Practical Pig Formula for Networking:

  • Network to build relationships
  • Remember the Golden Rule: Treat people the way you want to be treated at a Networking event, whether online or in person
  • Become a Member and attend regularly, whether visiting a social media platform or a networking group–as we see your avatar/face consistently, we feel more acquainted, and then confidence and trust grows
  • Ask for the relationship, not the sale (when the time is right, you can talk referral and/or sales)
  • Smile and be approachable

There you have it:  The Practical Pig formula for networking.  Now go and build an AMAZING network!

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