Articles Tagged ‘Networking tips’

LOOK AT NETWORKING DIFFERENTLY – SOCIAL 46

Friday, February 17th, 2012

If you ask people to describe networking you will get a variety of responses, most often it sounds something like this, “going to events where business people exchange business cards and talk business with one another.” While indeed that is a good description of what a lot of “networking” events look like, it is not the only way that networking takes place. People get so hung up on the formal side of networking that they completely miss all the other opportunities to network. I personally spend far less time at “networking events” and far more time networking in ways that I enjoy.

Recently, I was invited to be part of #Social46. This is a group of social media minded people who have strong networks, they were asked to support the Super Bowl 2012 committee in welcoming guests and helping them out using social media. I was honored to be asked, and took advantage of the opportunity. Many of these are people I have heard of but never met in person, some I knew and have relationships with and still others I have never met online or offline. This is the kind of networking that I enjoy, a group of people bound together for a common cause.

It does not take long to build strong relationships with people who have a common cause because you are all working and supporting one another to achieve that cause. For this group there was the added excitement of being able to connect the city and the visitors, and being the first city to ever fully use social media in such a large event. I have a strong affinity for many of the participants, they are my role models on Social Media, and they are so giving of their time and efforts. These are the kind of people I want in my network, who I want to learn more about, and who I feel good about referring to others because their “Givers Gain” attitude make them so referrable.

Working with a small group of people for a common cause is often far more effective than going month after month to big “networking” events. Take a look a the networking that you are doing, how are you breaking out of the traditional mode and finding new ways to connect and build relationships? Share some of your ideas with us!

Hazel Walker
Referral Institute, llc
BNI
hazel@bni.com

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3 THINGS FOR MEN TO KNOW WHEN NETWORKING WITH WOMEN

Tuesday, January 31st, 2012

Women business owners have reason to feel good. According to a survey, in the most recent 10-year period, the number of women-owned businesses in the U.S. grew by 44 percent (twice as fast as men-owned firms) and, women-owned firms added 500,000 new jobs.

Women are growing business twice as fast as men, they are employing thousands of people. It is crazy for men to neglect this market when they are hitting the networking circuit. It is not that men do not network with women, they just don’t do it well. Not that they really don’t want to and not that they don’t try, there are just little things that cause the connections to go south.

Here are 3 things that men can do to make their chances of connecting with women better.

When opening a conversation with a woman, don’t go straight to business. Ask them to tell you something about themselves. Women are looking for ways to connect, some common ground that will allow for a relational conversation.

Listen to the women that you meet at networking event. Yes women talk more than men, they have deeper conversations that men do, often sharing a great deal of information in a very storytelling way. Men can learn a great deal by asking questions and just listening.
Never underestimate how serious a woman takes her business. Just because she may be selling a product or a service that seems soft and fluff, like cosmetics, clothing, child care or any other personal service, does not mean she does not take her business as serious as any man may take his.

Women are creating business, they have a need for services, they know other women who need products and services but they are not going to share that information with someone whom they do not have a trusting relationship with. Building those relationships will take time and work, but if you are willing to invest both, men and women can connect and refer to one another very successfully.

Hazel Walker
Referral Institute, llc
BNI
hazel@bni.com

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McDonalds is Fast, Easy & Cheap, Referrals are Not

Monday, November 21st, 2011

“In this economy, developing a strong referral strategy is a fast, easy cheap way to build a strong business,” Palzewicz said. “Referrals are more important than ever because people are more careful where they buy and the words of satisfied customers, especially customers that are their friends, can be very powerful and more impactful than any other type of advertising.”

As is my habit, I was reading blogs, press releases, and other material on networking, when I ran across the above quote in a press release. I become very frustrated when I read information that is incorrect or misleading, not intentionally misleading but written by someone who really does not understand what the referral process is. McDonald’s is fast, easy and cheap, but you cannot apply that to a solid referral strategy.

“In this economy, developing a strong referral strategy is a fast, easy, cheap way to build a strong business.” Nothing could be further from the truth. While networking might be considered fast easy and cheap, building a referral process takes time, it is a skill that must be learned, and requires a budget of time and money. When a client comes to me and wants to develop a referral strategy they must have a developed network that we can then develop into a proper referral strategy for their business. McDonald’s is fast, easy and cheap, but it is not the first place you want to go if you are looking for a high quality meal. While it is nice to sometimes have low level leads from fast, easy and cheap networking, it is not the way to sustain your business.

Let’s take a look at why the words of Fast, Easy, and Cheap cannot be related to developing a referral strategy.

Fast – A solid referral strategy is based on a relationship built on trust. Trust takes time, you have to be willing to take the time to build the trust. People are not going to refer business to someone whom they do not trust to make them look good. How long it takes someone to trust you depends, ask yourself, do you trust fast?

Easy – Once you have your systems in place for your referral strategy, it does feel pretty easy. Getting those systems in place and maintaining them is not easy, fast, or cheap. If building a strong referral strategy were easy, there would be a lot more very successful businesses generating high quality referrals. I know this is not the case by the number of businesses that hire me to help them implement a strategy and systems.
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Successful Networkers Ask More Questions

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

Rather than making assumptions, ask more questions. This was a piece of sage advice that has been given to me both by my spiritual mentor, and my sales coach! No, they are not one in the same, but both have expressed the importance of asking more questions, as well as asking better questions. Over the years as I have developed my networking skills I have come to learn the importance of not only asking questions but ask good questions.

I often teach people how to network effectively, to get beyond face to face cold calling, to do quality networking that allows you to build relationships with people whom you want to refer business to and who may want to refer business to you. One of the most popular questions I get from my students is; “How do you start a good conversation with someone I meet at a networking event?” My response is always the same, “Ask Questions.”

People love to talk about themselves, their businesses, what they are doing that is important to them, and what is going on in their world. If you are shy, or timid, asking questions will allow you to interact and find common ground with people. It will take you out of your shell by allowing you to focus on something other than your own fear.

Here are a few tips for asking questions:

Never ask yes or no questions, otherwise you just get yes and no answers and there is no conversation started. Make sure your questions are open ended.

Ask thoughtful questions that you would really like to know the answer to. People respond better when they know you are genuinely interested. We are accustomed to hearing questions like, “How are you?” “How’s business?” “What brought you here?” “What do you do?” The truth of those questions is that no one really wants to know the answer, they are just being polite.

After you ask a question, listen to the answer. It may lead you down the path of the next question or you may learn that the person you are speaking to would be a great connection for someone else you know if the room.

Don’t be a Drill Sargent and pummel the person with questions, it is far better to have 2-3 well thought out questions that draw the person into conversation with you, than it is to have a barrage of pointless questions.
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