“Will You Marry Me”?

Building business relationships

 

You would never ask someone to marry you on a first date, so why would you expect someone you’ve met for the first time to refer business with you?

We have all heard the expression “It’s not what you know, but who you know,” and in many cases we use that expression in a less-than-complimentary way. In those situations, perhaps we should respond by assessing our own skills in developing relationships that can help us build business and careers. Professional relationships that help us along in our career do not happen by accident or without significant effort. They require nurturing, constant contact, and a host of other important ingredients that, when properly applied, can create a support team as dedicated to our success as we are.

We begin developing close friends early on in life. What we might not have realized in our developmental years is that the friend we sat beside while learning our ABCs may indeed be our doctor, tax adviser, or our children’s grade school teacher later on in life. However, as adults we can visualize that the people we meet at networking events may indeed end up changing our life—or more importantly, we may be able to change theirs.

Building career relationships is all about capturing relationships as an ongoing and fundamental part of our life plan. Life is about who you know; the common ground we find with our associates; and the commitment to engaging with our friends and associates, those we know now and those we have yet to meet. The most important relationship in the world may be just around the corner, or waiting for you to say hello at that next mixer.

5 Keys to Building Business Relationships That Should Be Considered When Networking

  1. Contact: Assess your availability to meet and be met by others. Are you in the right professional associations? Do you attend events regularly? Are you an observer or participant? How many people in your associations do you know on a first-name basis?
  2. Commonality: Seeking commonality with others is important, as it is the means by which you communicate in an interesting and outgoing way. Finding activities, interests, and even exercise plans that you have in common offers the easiest way to interact on different levels, broadening your communication.
  3. Credibility: Associates, especially new ones, need to see us as credible people. This means that we need to mean what we say, say what we mean, and always follow through with the commitments we make. When people say, “Do you walk your talk?” What they mean is, “Are you credible?” While we never know how many demonstrations of credibility we have to perform so that people believe we are who and what we say we are, there is a universal answer to how many times we can NOT be credible. One! That’s why it’s important to take our commitments seriously, each and every time we have the opportunity.
  4. Confidence: Only when we have had the opportunity to demonstrate that we “walk our talk” over time and with enough interactions will our friends and associates be willing to show confidence in us. When people have confidence in you they will follow your lead, your example, and your direction. They will allow you to influence their thoughts on particular issues and they may even see you as an expert in others.
  5. Trust: Most relationships never really make it here! You see, trust allows a relationship to flourish because it makes no difference which party leads and which follows. One respects the other in any given interaction and works to unconditionally support the direction, philosophy, and commitment of the other. When you achieve this level of trust in a relationship, you’ve made it! The relationship has achieved intradependence!

It takes time to cultivate relationships, which is why attending just one networking mixer won’t do it. It requires the dedication keep attending, having a plan when you arrive, and the patience for building those relationships over time. Next time you decide that networking isn’t worth the effort, think about this: People who have made time in their schedule to network have gotten results like these:

  • 87% of top-level executives network 2–3 times weekly
  • 80% increase their business development
  • 45% increase their sales
  • 95% build their business relationships
  • 90% increase their business opportunities
  • 80% have found their next job through networking
  • 65% receive a return on their investment
  • 76% get in front of the type of business that they would like to meet

Sharon Jenks is the CEO of 6 Degrees Business Networking, #sd6degrees

Books to Read to Boost Your Networking Skills

Books2

 

“It isn’t what you know but who you know” is an old saying that still holds true today. In fact, good old-fashioned networking can be the best way to land a new job.

In a survey of nearly 60,000 clients by Right Management, part of Manpower Group, 41 percent responded that they got their current job through networking. When you combine online social networking with the traditional face-to -face approach, you can widen your success rate. One way to do this is by finding former classmates or associates through a site such as LinkedIn Corp (NYSE:LNKD) and then requesting to meet them in person.

Books to help boost your networking skills

If that sounds easier said than done, maybe your networking skills need a little brushing up. Here are some books to help you do just that.

Books on networking skills – Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi (2005)

The secret to networking is building relationships wherever you are and whatever you are doing. In this interesting read, Ferrazzi offers concrete ideas for expanding your network by reaching out to other people in everyday encounters, such as at the health club or at the local store or restaurant.

If you follow Ferrazzi’s plan, it can be life changing. Rather than suggesting you only network with those people who you think can help you get ahead, the author recommends developing a network of genuine relationships in all aspects of your life.

Favorite Quote: “I came to believe that in some very specific ways, life, like golf, is a game, and that the people who know the rules, and know them well, play it best and succeed. And the rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people, for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become a members of the “club” whether he started out as a caddie or not.”

Books on networking skills – The Skinny on Networking by Jim Randel(2010)

Using his trademark stick figures, Randel uses humor and directness to share his views on networking. This is a quick read, but it offers some clear and easy-to-follow advice on creating and maintaining a solid network.

The book features lessons the author shares with a fictional young couple, Beth and Billy. Along the way, you will gain some simple and effective tips that you can put into action right away.

Favorite Quote: “Networking is not just about business. Networking is about increasing your depth and breadth as a person. What starts out as a business relationship may well end up as a friendship.”

Books on networking skills – Winning with People by John Maxwell (2004)

Would you like to see yourself as others see you? If you could, what would you change? Maxwell takes us on a journey of self-inspection in this book, and his no-nonsense approach may just help you be a better at building relationships.

Maxwell uses examples from people from all walks of life and from his own personal experiences as a pastor to drive his 25 People Principles home. If you are a fan of Dale Carnegie, you will see the two writers have a similar style.

Favorite Quote: “I believe that attitude is the second most important decision anyone can make. (The most important is faith.) Your attitude will make or unmake you. It’s not the result of your birth, your circumstances, or your bank account. It’s all a choice.”

Books on networking skills –Dig Your Well Before You’re Thirsty by Harvey Mackay (1997)

How many people could you count on if you called them at 2 a.m.? Harvey Mackay uses this question as way of asking his readers to consider the strength of their networks. In this practical book, Mackay shares his own career experience and gives tips on how you can develop our own reliable network. One of the most useful parts of the book deals with small talk and how you can improve this useful but often awkward skill.

Favorite Quote: “Before you meet new people, before you make that call, do your homework. Find that common ground. Determine where their needs and interests lie. Make that connection.”

Books on networking skills – Highly Effective Networking by Orville Pierson (2009)

Networking is simply “talking to people with a goal in mind,” according to Pierson, and he uses this simple definition to broaden the way we look at networking. Pierson encourages us with the idea that we already have a network. We just simply need to know how to use it to get ahead.

The concise book provides a three-part “project plan” for an effective job search, with using your established personal and professional network as a valuable part of that action plan.

Favorite Quote: “When the economy is good, networking is important. In tough time or tough job markets, networking is essential.”

Basic Tips to Make Your First Business Networking Event

Most folks know that networking is a key to success. We want and need to know people with whom we do business, and most of us enjoy meeting new people for our social circle as well. No “networking” event is, in and of itself, worthwhile.

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It’s what happens afterward that makes the difference.

Networking isn’t about getting business on the spot, it’s about developing relationships that will lead to business, directly or indirectly, down the road. Networking almost always requires the long-term approach.

But how do you begin? Joining a “networking group” can be an intimidating step, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are some basics to get you started.

Make time and do it. “Someday” and “later” have a way of never happening.

Be prepared with something to say. Know what the big news story is, the key sports results, and have a positive or thoughtful comment.

Be prepared to introduce yourself in 15-20 seconds. Without stumbling. This is usually called the “elevator speech.” Make it interesting. If it’s boring to say, it’s boring to hear.

Carry business cards and have them easily accessible…

… But don’t offer indiscriminately them at the beginning of a conversation! It’s far better to chat for a while, to know someone about the person, and then to ask for his or her business card. What if, horror of horrors, they don’t reciprocate and ask for yours? Not a problem. Send them one when you follow up after the event.

When someone offers you a business card, look at it before you put it away. A card is our tangible persona. Notice it, accord it due respect, and then carefully put it away.

Pay attention to the conversation. Don’t be one of the “power networkers” always looking over the shoulder of your conversational companion, looking for someone more interesting. Listen. Really listen. When your companion is talking, that’s your signal to listen to what they’re saying, not to be composing your witty rejoinder. Listening is the antidote for nervousness, especially for introverts, because your entire focus is on the speaker – and his focus is on himself, too!

Think about how you can help the person you’re talking with. Make a contact, offer a lead, or just ask how you might recognize a terrific potential client/customer for her. Don’t assume someone you’re talking to can’t help you. A conversation may not lead directly to business, but you have no idea who that person may know or where they’ll end up next.

Set your intentions before you go (i.e., I will leave with 3 business cards of people I plan to contact again). And aim for quality over quantity.

Follow up afterward.

If you use these tactics, your first networking meeting will be a successful and, perhaps, even an enjoyable event that will encourage you to keep coming back.

by M Peal

Advanced Business Networking

You can get a lot more leverage from your business networking efforts if you work on building relationships with strategic alliance partners. When done effectively you’ll get more regular and predictable referrals from these strategic alliances then from any other source.

networking-300x200

In just about any business there are natural referral partners. A real estate agent needs a mortgage broker and an inspector. A financial planner needs a CPA or accountant and an attorney. A graphic designer might need a marketing consultant or a copy writer. You get the picture.

By finding a core group of these complimentary businesses you can all help each other grow by bringing each other into new deals. You win because you’ll be getting business you might not have even known about otherwise, and your customer wins by working with professionals who are used to working together.

Building your strategic alliance network doesn’t have to be difficult. Start by identifying the types of products or services that you don’t offer that your clients consistently ask you about. If you’re a computer consultant and your clients are always asking if you know a good web designer or telephone systems vendor start there. You’ll already have something to offer to the potential partners you approach.

It’s very important that you choose solid trustworthy partners. You’ll be putting your reputation on the line every time you refer one of these people to your customer. A good rule of thumb is to only work with others that you would trust with your own business, or to help your mother, or best friend.

You can either build relationships with these potential partners one on one, or bring them all together in a private networking group where you can all learn to work together. Personally I prefer to combine these two approaches. Bring everyone together and you’ll be helping everyone else out that much more. In addition, continue to build a strong relationship with each individual so that they know they can trust you with their referrals.

The details of every strategic alliance are up to you. You might choose to pay a referral fee or share a percentage of your revenue (if that’s legal in your industry, you may need to check with your business attorney to be sure). You might just decide to refer business to each other and know that in the end it’ll work out. Working together you may also find that there are some great opportunities for cooperative advertising or working a trade show booth together. It’s up to you and your new strategic partner.

Being successful in business is all about taking action. Reading about taking your networking to the next level and building strategic alliances is useless unless you act on it. Take a few minutes right now to think about the type of businesses you could build a strategic alliance with. Now, pick up the phone!

The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

By  Fabian Parris

How To Persuade Anyone Of Anything In Ten Seconds

Elevator speech, 30 sec pitch

 

You’re on the most important elevator ride of your life. You have ten seconds to pitch- the classic “elevator pitch”.

Love or Hate. Money or Despair. And you may never get this chance again. As PM Dawn says, “I feel for you. I really do.”

There are books about this. But don’t waste your time. They are all garbage.

I’ve been on both sides of this equation. I’ve had people pitching me.

But mostly, I’ve been scared and desperate and afraid to ask someone to give me, want me, love me, all in the space of an elevator ride or in the time it takes one to ride an elevator.

Perhaps the hardest thing for me was when I was doing my “3am” web series for HBO.

I had to walk up to random strangers at 3 in the morning on the streets of New York and convince them within 5 seconds to spill their most intimate secrets to me rather than kill me.

Not quite an elevator pitch but the same basic idea. I had a lot of practice. I probably approached over 3000 people cold.

In some cases people tried to kill me. In one case I was chased. In other cases people opened up their hearts and I am infinitely grateful to them.

The ideas below have worked for me in the hundreds of times I’ve had to be persuasive. Either in writing, or in person. In business and in friendships and in love. I hope variations on it can work for you. You decide.

A) WHO ARE YOU?

People want to know they are talking to a good, honest, reliable person that they can trust and perhaps even like, or love.

Yes, love.

They won’t love you by looking at your resume.

You have to do method acting. Imagine what your body would feel like if they already said “Yes” even before you open your mouth.

You would be standing up straight, smiling, palms open, ready to close the deal. You have to method act at the beginning of your pitch.

If you are slouched and your head is sticking out then your brain is not as well-connected to your nervous system and you won’t be in “flow”.

I can drag out the science here but this is a Facebook status update and not a peer-reviewed scientific paper for the Justice League of America.

The reality is: when you’re slouched over, not only are you not using the full potential of your brain, but you look untrustworthy.

B) RELAX

Think about how you breathe when you are anxious and nervous.

I will tell you how I breathe: short, shallow breaths in my upper chest.

So do the reverse before a ten second pitch.

Breathe deep and in your stomach. Even three deep breaths in the stomach (and when you exhale try to imagine your stomach almost hitting your back) has been shown to totally relax the mind and body.

People sense this. Again, this builds trust and relaxes you.

Now, even though you haven’t said a single word, you’ve probably done the two most important things for persuading someone.

C) UHHH. YEAH. UHHH. MMMM-HMMM. UH-HUH

I have a hard time with this. It seems natural to say, “yup” or “right” or “uh-huh” or whatever.

But here’s the facts (and, again, there’s been studies on this): people perceive you as stupid when you do this.

Just keep quiet when someone is talking.

Then, when someone is done speaking, wait for two seconds before responding. They might not be done yet. And it gives you time to think of a response. If you are thinking of a response while they are talking, then you aren’t listening to them.

People unconsciously know when you are not listening to them. Then they say No to you.

D) THE SIX U’s

FINALLY, now we’re getting to the heart of the matter. THE ACTUAL NUTS AND BOLTS OF PERSUASION

By the way, I’ve googled “the 4 U’s” and each time I get a different set of 4. So I’m going to use the 4 that have worked for me the best.

This is not BS. This is not a way to convince someone to do something they don’t want to do. This is a way for you to consolidate your vision into a sentence or two and then express it in a clear manner.

This is the way to bond and connect with another person’s needs instead of just your own pathetic wants.

You can use this in an elevator pitch, on a date, with your children, on your mother, whatever. But it works.

Think about these things when talking:

  1. Urgency


Why the problem you solve is URGENT to your demographic. For example: “I can never get a cab when it rains!”
  2. Unique


Why is your solution unique: “We aggregate 100s of car services into one simple app. Nobody else does this.”
  3. Useful


Why is your solution useful to the lives of the people you plan on selling to or deliver your message to: “We get you there on time.”
  4. Ultra-Specific


This shows there is no fluff: “Our app knows where you are. Your credit card is pre-loaded. You hit a button and a car shows up in 4-5 minutes.”

Of course the example I give is for Uber but you can throw in any other example you want.

I’ll throw in a fifth “U”
  5. User-friendly
In other words, make it as easy as possible for someone to say “yes”. Like a money back guarantee, for instance. Or a giveaway. Or higher equity. Or testimonials from people you both know. Etc.

OH! And before I forget, a sixth U
  6. Unquestionable Proof

This can be in the form of profits. Or some measurable statistic. Or testimonials. Or a good wing-man. Whatever it takes.

E) DESIRE

A lot of people say you have to satisfy the desires of the other person in order for them to say “yes”.

As much as we would like to think otherwise, people primarily act out of self-interest.

The less they know you, the more they will act of self-interest because to do otherwise could potentially put them in danger. We all know that kids shouldn’t take candy from strangers.

In an elevator pitch, the investor is the kid, what you are asking is the candy, and you are the stranger. So their gut reflex, unless you make the candy super-sweet, is to say “no”.

So make sure you make your candy sweeter by sprinkling in their desires.

And what are their desires?

  • recognition
  • rejuvenation
  • relaxation
  • relief
  • religion
  • remuneration
  • results
  • revenge
  • romance

If you can help them solve these URGENT problems or desires, then you they are more likely to say “yes” to you.

I don’t know what you are selling, but hopefully it’s not to satisfy their desire for revenge. But if it is, don’t do anything violent.

The one time I had to sell romance on an elevator I had to do three things: tell her life would be ok, make sure I knew her address and last name, and send her a teddy bear and flowers the next day.

But that’s for another story.

BUT FIRST

F) OBJECTIONS

Everyone is going to have gut objections.

They’ve been approached 1000s of times before.

Do you know how many times I’ve been approached to have sex in an elevator?

None.

But probably many others have and you have to put up with their non-stop objection.

I will list them and then give solutions in parentheses:

  • No time
(that’s ok. It’s on an elevator. So they have elevator-length time. The key here is to stand straight and act like someone who deserves to be listened to).
  • No interest
(you solve this by accurately expressing the urgency of the problem)
  • No perceived difference
(but you have your unique difference ready to go)
  • No belief
(offer unquestionable proof that this works)
  • No decision
(make their decision as user-friendly as possible)

– – –

With great power comes great responsibility.

Most people don’t have the power of persuasion. They mess up on each of the points I’ve outlined above. It takes practice and hard work.

But this is not just about persuasion. It’s about connection.

It’s about two people, who are probably strangers, reaching through physical and mental space and trying to understand each other and reach common ground.

It’s not about money. It’s not about the idea. It’s not about yes or no.

It’s about two people falling in love. -James Altucher

(Photo by Marco Wessel)

How NOT to Introduce Yourself

Introductions

 

Networking is one of the most challenging skills you may have to learn in the world of business. It can be an awkward experience, having the attention of a group of strangers focused on you, and trying to make a good first impression.

It’s an important moment. The person opposite you might be someone who could make or break your career. If you make a good impression, he or she might be able to refer your next big client, or have the influence to help you land that next big contract.

On the other hand, if you act like a doofus, you might alienate someone who might have been an otherwise important connection and relationship.

If you’d like to avoid looking like a jerk, avoid being this guy when introducing yourself:

  • Name dropper. This person introduces themselves by saying who they know, who they’ve worked with, etc. I might not remember their name, but I’ll remember that they once got Tony Robbins a glass of water.
  • Drive-by carder. A card is not an introduction. Just throwing your business card at a person, or worse, at as many people as possible at a networking event, is just about the worst kind of introduction you can make. If you hand one to me, I’m going to hand it to the nearest rubbish bin.
  • Double-carder. Handing someone two copies of your business card to encourage the other person to send you a referral. It’s presumptuous unless they ask for an extra card.
  • Rambling man (or woman). As soon as you get to talk, you get over excited and start telling your life story. Or the story of how you got to the meeting. Or how you met your spouse. And forget to tell me, you know, who you are.
  • TMI. If I’m just meeting you, I don’t need to know the entire history of your business or career, all of your degrees and accolades, and your dog’s maiden name. Stick to the basics.
  • Limp fish. It may be old fashioned, but I think a weak handshake is a turn-off when introducing yourself. Practice a firm (but not crushing) handshake to convey confidence.
  • The Cannonball. Probably the opposite of the limp fish is the cannonball — the guy who is so overly confident that he’ll barrel his way into any situation or conversation without being invited. If you want to join an ongoing conversation, wait to be acknowledged before you jump right in.
  • Digital Zombie. If you’re going to a networking event, or a business function of some kind, don’t be so absorbed in yourself and your cell phone that you’re not paying attention.

How to introduce yourself in one simple step:

Instead of leading with what you do, lead with who you help. As in, “Hi, my name is Bernard, and I help companies identify and make the best use of their key performance indicators and big data.”

Done. You know who I am, what I do, and more importantly, whether or not I can help you or someone you know. -Bernard Marr

What are your best tips for making a good introduction? OR, what are your least favorite ways people introduce themselves? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.