Tag Archive for 'Ivan Misner'

Six networking tips for International Networking Week — plus a bonus one

This is International Networking Week. I know – I’m excited too!

But before you head out, help me recognize two world-class leaders for first making networking a thing, and then for making it a big thing.

On February 23, 1905, lawyer Paul J. Harris got a handful of friends together and founded Rotary, the world’s first civic club. Initially, his goal was just to grow his practice. But Harris soon realized this could be big because Rotary clubs caught on and, you might say, went viral. Now after over a century of international success, 33,000 Rotary clubs around the globe meet every week to network. And millions of people worldwide have benefited as Rotarians have delivered on Harris’s founding principle, “Service above self.”

Three-quarters of a century later, Dr. Ivan Misner also had a rather parochial idea that caught on around the world. What began simply as a plan to meet other professionals in order to grow his consulting business, rather quickly became Business Network International. Over 30 years, 7,500 worldwide chapters and millions of business referrals later, the BNI watchword is “Givers gain.”

After more than a half-century in the marketplace, more than 25 years as a Rotarian, and almost 20 years as a friend of BNI, here’s what I call the Networking Power Question: “What can I do to help you?”

There are two fundamental reasons Rotary and BNI caught on and have endured:

1. Networking is the professional version of the naturally gregarious nature of humans – we just like doing it;

2. Done right, the headwaters of networking is a commitment to what’s best for the person on the other side of the handshake. And after a century of organized practicing, we know the awesome power of putting others first.

Now, let’s get your International Networking Week off to a successful start by considering these networking thoughts (NT) that were inspired by my friend and networking goddess, Andrea Nierenberg.

NT #1.  Make eye contact

Clearly the cardinal sin of networking is not looking the person you’re talking to in the eye.  Nierenberg says you should be able to remember the color of the person’s eyes that you just met.

NT #2.  More ears – less mouth

This is an old adage, but it’s an essential NT for most of us. You’ll be more likely to impress someone by your interest in them rather than the other way around. “Tell me about your business,” and then, “Tell me more.”

NT #3.  Smile – a lot!

Ladies are usually better at this than men. But the smile must be genuine, and is best accomplished in combination with NT #1. You don’t have to grin guys. Just turn up the corners of your mouth a little.

NT #4.  Firm handshake

Men are usually better at this than the ladies, but don’t turn it into a wrestling match. And guys, when you’re shaking the hand of a lady, it’s the opposite of dancing: let the lady lead. Ladies, that means offer your hand first and give ’em a good squeeze.  No one likes a dead fish/limp elbow handshake.

NT #5. Elevator speech

This is your very short and concise response when it’s your turn to talk. And unless one of you is actually getting on an elevator, be thinking about NT #2, and follow your little pitch with a sincere inquiry about them. “Now, tell me about you.”

NT #6. Successful networking benefits all parties

Enter any networking opportunity with NT #6 on your mind instead of “What’s in it for me?” and your networking success will increase exponentially. Remember the legendary Rotary and BNI mottos, “Service above self” and “Givers gain.”

Here’s a bonus NT from Misner: “It’s not netplay, it’s network.”

Make it your personal goal to become a professional networker. And then watch success come and play in your backyard.

Write this on a rock … Face-to-face networking is the original social media.

Six “networking thoughts” for success, plus one bonus

Networking is one of the three most important areas small business owners should focus on in the 21st century. The other two are leveraging technology and developing strategic alliances.

My definition of networking is: actively making professional relationships, developing and maintaining those relationships, and leveraging them for the benefit of all parties. But before you can develop a relationship, you first have to meet the other person and establish a basis for future contact.

Networking opportunities are everywhere you turn, but especially at Chamber of Commerce events or any venue likely to be attended by business and community leaders.

Before you enter a networking environment, it’s important to understand that successful networking is an acquired skill, like playing golf. In fact, we could actually take a lesson from those who seek the little white ball.

Good golfers address each shot with what are called “swing thoughts.” They orient their pre-swing routine - and the actual swing - around these fundamentals, which will help them make a good shot.

Inspired by the work of my friend, Andrea Nierenberg, author of Nonstop Networking, I’ve created a few networking thoughts, or NT for short. Please, try these at home.

NT #1. Make eye contact
One of the worst things that can be said about your human interaction skills is that you don’t look the person you’re talking to in the eye. Andrea says you should be able to remember the color of the person’s eyes that you just met.

NT #2. More ears - less mouth
This is an old adage, but it’s an essential NT for most of us. You’ll be more likely to impress someone by your interest in them rather than the other way around.

NT #3. Smile
Ladies are usually better at this than men. But the smile must be genuine, and is best accomplished in combination with NT #1.

NT #4. Firm handshake
Men are usually better at this than the ladies, but don’t turn it into a wrestling match. And guys, when you’re shaking the hand of a lady, it’s the opposite of dancing: let the lady lead. Ladies, that means offer your hand first and give ‘em a good squeeze.

NT #5. Elevator speech
This is your very short and concise response if someone asks what you do. And unless one of you is actually getting off an elevator, be thinking about NT #2, and follow your little speech with a sincere inquiry about them.

NT #6. Successful networking benefits all parties
Re-read the definition of networking. Enter any networking opportunity with NT #6 on your mind, instead of “What’s in it for me?” and your networking success will increase exponentially. This is also the Law of Reciprocity, which Ivan Misner, founder of BNI shortened into: Givers gain.

Write this on a rock … Bonus NT: It’s net-working, not net-playing.

The powerful practice of networking

Having moved his law practice to Chicago in 1896, Paul J. Harris missed the friendly relationships he knew growing up in a small Vermont town.

One fall day in 1900, while walking with his friend, Bob Frank, around the Windy City’s North Side, Harris noticed how Frank had made a connection with many of the shopkeepers they passed by. This kind of interaction was not only what he longed for, but he believed it would also appeal to other professionals (men in those days) who, like him, had emigrated from rural America to the big cities.

The question Harris mused to himself over the next few years was: Could such connecting activity be organized among professionals and business people? Today we know the answer to Harris’ question is civic groups. But at the dawn of the 20th century, this innovation had yet to be invented.

Then on February 23, 1905, Paul Harris put his connection question to the test when he and three friends founded the world’s first civic club. They named it Rotary because they planned to rotate weekly meetings between each member’s office. Now an international success story, 33,000 Rotary clubs are still based on Harris’ founding principle of “Service above Self.”

Harris’ original dream was to connect people for the benefit of all parties. He probably didn’t use this term, but Harris’ 1905 connecting formula is the modern definition of networking.

Three-quarters of a century later, Ivan Misner had a dream of creating a structured networking model when he founded Business Network International. Misner’s goal was very much like Harris’ but with the specific purpose of business people meeting regularly to help each other grow their business.

Though not a civic organization, the motto of BNI’s 6,000 chapters worldwide is, “Givers gain.”  In a sentence it sounds like, “Let me help you first.”

The significant international success of Rotary and BNI has revealed two important things: 1) networking is an essential professional skill and practice; and 2) putting others first is powerful.

This week, February 6-12, is International Networking Week. This month Rotarians will celebrate the 106th anniversary of Paul Harris’ dream-come-true. Whether you participate in a civic club, a BNI chapter, your local chamber of commerce or other gathering, become a more frequent, accomplished and selfless networker.

Face-to-face is the original social media and it’s still important.

Today on The Small Business Advocate Show, I talked with Ivan Misner about successful networking. Take a few minutes to listen and leave your thoughts and best practices on how networking has helped you in your business.

Celebrating International Networking Week with Ivan Misner
The educational component of successful networking with Ivan Misner
Two more networking core competencies with Ivan Misner

Are you afflicted with “networking disconnect?”

Recently I heard a story about a speaker whose topic was how to become better at networking. Not better at finding, scheduling or attending networking events. But better at having the right kind of networking values. 

So to make his point, this speaker asked how many in the audience came there hoping to make a sale as a result of attending this networking event.  Many in attendance raised their hands, and those were just the honest ones.  

Next, the speaker asked for a show of hands of how many came to the event wanting to buy something.  Wouldn’t you know it?  No one raised their hand. 

The person who told me this story is my friend and long-time Brain Trust member, Dr. Ivan Misner.  Ivan is the world’s leading expert on networking and the founder of Business Network International (BNI).   He heard this speaker ask these questions and then proceeded to identify this phenomenon – lots of networking salespeople, not so many networking buyers – as “the networking disconnect.”

Are guilty of practicing the networking disconnect?  Or do you have the right networking values that Ivan has tough by audience, which is based on the Law of Reciprocity, simply: Givers gain. 

Recently, on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, Ivan joined me to talk about how to inoculate yourself against the networking disconnect syndrome. I hope you’ll take a few minutes to listen to our conversation and, as always, be sure to leave your own thoughts and/or experiences.

Are you guilty of the networking disconnect? with Ivan Misner

Networking is a key to success

Here are the results of last week’s Small Business Advocate poll, followed by my comments:

The Question: How many networking events (any gathering of business leaders) do you attend?

30% - None

30% - Average about one a month

26% - Usually two or more a month

13% - More than five a month

In 1998, I began telling small business owners that one of the three most important activities we were going to have to get better at in the 21st century is networking (the other two are leveraging technology and building strategic alliances). This week, in our poll question, we asked you about your networking activity and got some very good news.

Almost two-thirds of you are participating in at least one networking event a month. And almost four of ten are attending more than two a month.  Unfortunately, almost one-third of you are not attending any networking events.

Networking, whether one-on-one at lunch, or participating in a gathering, like a club meeting or chamber mixer, is as important as ever.  If you’re one of those who are doing no networking, allow me to tell you what I’ve learned in the past 30 years: Whenever I’ve ventured outside the four walls of my business, even when I didn’t want to go, something good ALWAYS happened.

Get out of your four walls and find out what other people are thinking and doing.  And remember, networking is not all about you. Practice the law of reciprocity. Or, as my friend, Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI and the world’s leading networking expert says, “Givers gain.” If you want to get more out of networking, give more first.

One last thing: Social networking online is fine, but it’s not a substitute for the original social media: face-to-face.

Thanks for being part of my community. I’ll see you on the radio, and on the Internet.

To participate in the current poll question, visit www.smallbusinessadvocate.com and vote.

Be a networking pro and get professional results

Are you a networking amateur or a pro?  Do you just show up at networking opportunities and wander around like you would at a high school reunion? Are you seeing any results from your networking activity? Just as in professional selling, there are networking tools and practices that you can learn and use that will help you become more professional and, therefore, more effective as a networker without being mechanical and manipulative.

Recently on my radio program, The Small Business Advocate Show, the world’s #1 guru on networking, Ivan Misner, revealed some of these professional networking tips you can use to become a professional networker, including a networking checklist and how to get a huge discount on an online networking resource. Ivan is a long-time member of my Brain Trust, but his day-job is as founder and Chairman of Business Network International, BNI, and author of several books on networking. Take a few minutes to listen to our visit and leave your thoughts on lessons you’ve learned about networking. Listen Live! Download, Too!




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