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Written by Jeff Wilson
Most business people agree that networking is a great way to make professional contacts—but only if you do it the right way. However, make one of the following conversation faux pas and your career and professional image could be headed for trouble. Here are five career-crunching networking mistakes people make when attending social or business events.
1. Chatting for too long with your officemates
Shooting the breeze for a few minutes at networking events with your colleagues is all part of the fun, but if you stay ensconced in your closed circle of friends for too long, new coworkers, prospects or others will quickly cast you and your colleagues as cliquish, disinterested and not open to outsiders. Also, staying in one place too long, whether you are talking to someone or nibbling on the appetizers will make you appear shy, self-conscious and lacking confidence. It’s better to briefly chat with your buddies and then move to different areas of the room to introduce yourself to others you want to get to know better.
2. Asking more than three closed-ended questions in a row
Lots of networking takes place during informal get-togethers after work or at work-related social events. Avoid peppering people with one question after the other. “Do you work on our office?” “How long have you worked here?” “Who is your supervisor?” Yikes! You’re networking—not conducting a job interview or interrogation! Asking three or more closed ended questions in a row will certainly stifle any conversation, make others feel uncomfortable and definitely not win you any communication awards. Instead, show interest and a desire to find common interests by asking open-ended questions that encourage others to elaborate and reveal free information. Then based on what you hear that interests you, respond with follow-up questions and information of your own.
3. Talking too much or too little about yourself
“So enough about my job! Let me show you pictures of my kids (cats, car, etc.)!” Sure people love to talk about themselves, their pets, kids and grandchildren, but if you are the one doing all the talking at a social or business function, you’re probably boring the other person to tears! On the other hand, if you are too tight-lipped, then people may see you as secretive, defensive or lacking interest and enthusiasm. The remedy here is to exchange information about various light subjects at about the same rate so that you both know what each other enjoys and likes to talk about.
4. Complaining or gossiping about colleagues or clients
You might be tempted and it may even be well-deserved, but never get involved in a gripe session about a colleague or client while attending a networking event or social/business get-together. As obvious as this blunder is, people seem to do it all the time, especially after a few drinks. Even if you’re not the one making the crass remarks, if word gets back to the “offending person” you will still pay the price long after the party is over. If possible, politely excuse yourself from the conversation as quickly as possible. However, if you find yourself stuck with this group, then take the initiative and bring up something that moves the discussion to a more positive topic.
5. Talking about politics, controversial subjects or sporting events (that’s right!)
It never fails—there always seems to be at least one person at the social or business affair who likes to snag others into political “discussions,” offer longwinded lectures about his or her pet social issues, or wants to debate the outcome of a soccer match. (Sports fans, watch out for this one!) The trap often begins with the seemingly innocent words, “Don’t you think that …?” or “In my humble opinion ….” or “You people always …!” However, if you rebut with even a few words you’ll be in for an earful—and not the kind of conversation that most people at networking events enjoy or benefit from. Furthermore, discussing controversial topics in this situation often polarizes people who otherwise get along. The best thing to say when someone brings up a controversial subject or challenges your views at a business or social event is to say, “I think I’ll just keep my opinions to myself about that.” Then it’s up to you to change the discussion to a less volatile topic.
Social and Business Get-togethers Offer Golden Opportunities to Hone Your Communication Skills
Social and business get-togethers are great place to network, make small talk, establish rapport and build better relationships with your colleagues, acquaintances and clients. When you talk about light, upbeat subjects that lead to sharing common professional and personal interests, goals and experiences you’ll have plenty to talk about while boosting your career and honing your communication skills!
Written by Kalynn Amadio
Do you have a follow up system for your leads? Is it a shoebox where you throw all the business cards you collect having every intention of sorting them out later but later never comes. The fortune is in the follow up. So having viable lead systems that you find easy to use becomes critical to building small business success.
A super simple follow up system is best for beginners. There are plenty of ways you can follow up as part of a small business lead systems strategy. If the system is too complex, you or your employees are not going to make good use of it. In the beginning, it’s perfectly acceptable to create lead systems from the tools you have at hand.
Something as simple as an Excel spreadsheet with contact data, notes, dates of contact, proposed follow-up and more will work. Many people start out using Microsoft Outlook to catalog contacts and calendar to maintain some sort of follow up system.
If you have a shoebox handy, you can go even more old school with lead systems. Create monthly dividers for your shoebox. When you have collected business cards from a networking event, attach them to index cards and write notes about your prospect. Simply file the index card behind the date you’ve already agreed with the prospect to follow up or date in the future you intend to follow up. Once this system is rolling, you only need to check the calendar date within your shoebox and DO the follow-up.
If you have an assistant, virtual assistant or family member that supports you in this role, they can keep your lead systems organized and create your follow up list each day. A solopreneur doesn’t need to spend a lot of money on fancy software and services to stay organized though those systems do have their advantages when used properly.
Electronic systems can send you email updates and reminders to follow up. In essence, they can check the box for you. Any lead systems, no matter how simple or how complicated, require human input to make them work. It’s basic garbage-in, garbage-out that could hamper your success with any small business lead systems.
In the end, you have to be diligent, organized and thorough, no matter what follow up business systems you decide to use. But the bottom line is this: No lead systems – No business growth.
When you shake a hand, it only lasts a few seconds, but it is during that time you have the power to influence and build rapport, whether your goal is to negotiate peace between Syria and its people, or whether you’re trying to sell a car.
In just three to 7 seconds it tells people how we feel about ourselves and how much we respect them
3 easy steps on how the HANDSAKE is properly done;
1- Look at the person in the eye and smile
2- Extend your hand perpendicular to the floor, thumb to the sky
3- Connect with a semi-firm handshake and three to five pumps and then let go
I challenge you to rehearse and refine your handshake this week!
|Written by Jon Henry|
|Who is your best sales team?
[allow for responses]
There are three categories of your best sales team: members, your power team, and guests.
Who is your best sales team? [allow for responses]
Let’s utilize our best sales team!
|Written by Franklinpr@aol.com|
Offering value added advice
It’s no secret that we all want to do business with people whom we know and trust. So, how do we build rapport and create trust with new contacts at networking events? One way is by offering value-added advice–solid, helpful information provided out of a genuine concern for another person – without a sales pitch. It can actually endear them to you.
Let’s say you’re a real estate agent talking with someone at a networking event who isn’t ready to buy a home today, but is heading in that direction. You could say something like: “Well, I know you’re not interested in buying a home right now. But, when you’re ready to start looking, I highly recommend checking out the north part of town. A lot of my clients are seeing their homes appreciate in the 10 to 20 percent range, and from what I understand, the city is thinking about building another middle school in that area.”
By doing that you’ve just made an ally without being too salesy, and an ally can become a client in the future quicker than a cold call can. A statement like this demonstrates your expertise, so he or she will remember you when ready to move. This model works for consultants, CPAs, accountants, financial planners, coaches–just about anyone in a service-based industry in which knowledge is the main product. If you’re concerned about giving away your intellectual capital for free, look at it this way: few people are going to sign up to do business with you if they’re not sure you can do the job. In the absence of a tangible product, you have nothing but your technical expertise to demonstrate that you have the goods.
Give potential clients a little test drive to show how it would feel to do business with you. But don’t go overboard! Just give them something they can try on to see if it works. Not only will this open up a good conversation with new contacts while you’re out networking, if you play your cards right, whom do you think they’ll go to when they’re in need of your kind of service?
|Written by Jeff Wilson
TWELVE QUESTIONS FOR MORE EFFECTIVE 1 to 1′s
| The biggest problem most people have when doing a 1to1 with a fellow member that they may know the most effective questions to ask them. Below are 10 questions that will help get a clear answer on how to help the member get more referrals and get connected to the people that can help feed them. When asking these questions focus on just one person during the first part of the 1to1 and then focus on the other member next.
This will energize your 1to1′s and make them 200% more effective. Here are the questions you need to ask:
Definition of credibility
“Trust of belief in somebody based on their track record” this is built up over time but can destroyed in a second!
Whats your definition of a credible BNI member?
trustworthy, committed, reliable, selfless, honest, integrity, punctual
When you give referral its your credibility on the line, there is a credibility curve and at some point on that curve we reach the trust point.
There are 5 steps which will make the biggest impact on the curve.
- Quality 121’s – not going around every member at speed. Its about taking time to get to know the person and their business and importantly the actions from the 121 and the follow ups.
- Get to know the members in your power circle – 67% of referrals come from within your power circle.
- Prepare for every meeting, going to a meeting armed with a referral for a fellow member is a great feeling and having your script prepared (not written on the back if a referral script!) or a visitor invited or a testimonial printed out means you have a contribution to make. 90 minute members within BNI are not the successful ones.
- Give without looking for the gain.
- Follow up – this is key to credibility, if you are given a referral and never make the call or contact the person that impacts on your credibility and also the referral givers.
Before your next meeting take a mirror moment
Have I done everything for my group I promised to do and am able to do?
Do I look the part?
What are my motives?
Strong members make strong groups where the business opportunities just keep growing.
The purpose of networking is not to sell something. It is to build relationships. We shouldn’t confuse direct sales with the time and effort it takes to educate referral partners.
The objective of meeting here every week, and especially during one-to-ones in between meetings, is to form trusting relationships with other people so they feel enthusiastic about referring you. Remember that the vast majority of income generated by our chapter does not come from doing business with each other.
It comes through doing business with people we refer to each other.
So how does it work? Think of the letters VCP.
V stands for visibility. People have to know your name and what you do. That is being visible. And that is where you are when you first join a BNI chapter.
Then comes C, for credibility. Credibility is formed when people feel that you are a good person, they like you, they feel you are good at what you do, and, most important, they feel you have the ability to make their referrals really happy with your product or service. Credibility is the time consuming stage. It takes active participation in the weekly meetings and lots of one-to-ones. How much time? At the MSP training I went to when I started BNI the trainer threw out the number 9 months before this starts to happen. I asked why. He said he didn’t know, it just seems to happen like that.
The last letter is P, for profitability. You have established your visibility. People know who you are and what you do. You have established credibility. They know you are good at what you do. Now they start to refer you to their friends and business contacts. That results in new business for you and, of course, more profit. The funny thing here is that profit is kind of a by-product of the first two stages. If visibility and credibility are well established, the referrals will just start to come.
So now it becomes pretty clear the difference between selling and networking. Selling is effort to make a sale. Networking is effort in forming relationships with the assumption that referrals will follow. It is important to understand this difference, especially for new members who may want to see immediate results to their bottom line. Profitability will come, but it takes time and effort to create the relationships that will make that happen.
|What is Professionalism?|
|Written by Jeff Wilson|
- Their positive attitude-rarely do you see a real professional with a negative attitude. They see the glass as half full instead of half empty.
- Their timeliness-professionals do not show up LATE-they are the people who show up early rather than risk being late. When you refer them to your clients you know they will be early.
- Their willingness to learn-professionals never proclaim that they know everything; EVEN when they are the expert in the subject. They are the people who ASK instead of TELL.
- Their reliability-professionals do what they say they will do and under most circumstances you can bank on it.
- Their humanness-professionals always demonstrate their caring people skills by treating others as “people” rather than “resources.” They first want to know about you the person before they ask about your business. Usually they will remember what you talked about last time. And when something goes wrong the FIRST give you the “benefit of the doubt” before forming an opinion.
Next week we will look at more ways to recognize PROFESSIONALS and PROFESSIONALISM.