- Have a strategy.
- No hard selling or spamming.
- Be genuine.
- Be conversational.
- Connect to someone new every day.
- Help someone every day.
- Provide value.
- Be interesting and amusing.
- Be consistent.
- Be polite.
- Be patient. Relationships take time.
- Have fun!
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 118 -
Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables.
I’m Priscilla Rice, and I’m coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkley, California, and I am joined on the phone today by the founder and the chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner.
Hello, Ivan. How are you?
Doing great, Priscilla, We have with us again today Mirna Bard. Mirna is a social media strategist and coach. She is also a BNI member who I have had an opportunity to meet. I love her content so much I thought it would be great to do a couple of podcasts on this.
BNI has a changing demographic. We have more and more younger millennials, Generation X, and Generation Y members in the organization, and, of course, online networking is really important. I believe that online networking and face-to-face networking are not an “either/or” but a “both/and” scenario. I have invited Mirna to come in and talk a little bit about that.
So, Mirna I’ll turn it over to you, and you can pick up where we left off last week on offline networking and social networking being similar.
Okay. Thank you, Ivan.
Last week we were talking about how social networking and offline networking can actually be aligned to get the most benefit out of generating referrals and basing sales. A lot of people are still very intimidated, they are still very overwhelmed because they think it is very technology driven. It is not about the technology; again, it is about the people; it is about building the relationships. Last week we kind of covered some things that really connect offline and online networking.
Today what I wanted to talk about are the rules. There are rules that go along with any networking; this includes online networking as well. Too many people are really trying to reinvent the wheel and create new rules. It is just the same rules that apply to offline networking.
The first one is having a strategy. You need a plan. Without a plan, you cannot go anywhere. You need to know what your goals are, what your target market is, how much time you have in dedicating to any kind of networking, what your budget is. Without a plan, we are not going to know where we are going. Basically, we become this hamster on a wheel that just goes round and round. Just having that feeling and going in circles is not going to get us anywhere.
Would you agree to that, Ivan?
I absolutely agree to that, and I know that it can be overwhelming. There are so many different online networks to participate in. It really is overwhelming unless you have a strategy in place.
The second step is that you want to listen. That is really a great rule, because without listening to what people are saying about your products, your services, what they are saying about you, your competition, you are not going to know what their needs and wants are and what their pain is. If you know what their plan is, you are really going to be able to solve their problem and really help them out in the system.
On the last call, we also talked about no hard selling or spamming. This goes with networking events and social media events because people are not in the mindset to be sold to. They are actually there to build relationships, and they are there to connect with people. And Ivan, you said this on the last call. Before you do any selling to anybody, you really have to build that credibility and rapport. You have to be genuine. People only like to do business with genuine, authentic people. This is extremely important.
You also want to be conversational. You want to talk to people. You want to ask questions. You want to answer questions. It is just like going to any networking event. You walk in and you have a plan to talk to a specific number of people. It is the same way; just make it a point to get out there and connect with one or two people a day maybe. Find out what they do; find out what their interests are; find out how you can help them and assist them. When you provide that help and assistance and you reach out to people, they are really going to appreciate that. They are really going to say, “Wow, she is making it a point to really care about what I have to say, what my needs are, what my wants are.” And they are going to return the favor when the time is right.
Another thing you want to do is provide value. You really have to peak the interest in social media users before hitting them with any kind of marketing message. By providing value, I mean giving tips, how to advise, maybe directing them to links or any kind of videos or articles, press releases that you think may be of interest to them. You do that a lot, Ivan, with your podcasts, with your blogging, with your articles and books; and that is definitely the content that should be provided online to provide the value for people.
You also want to be interesting and amusing. A lot of followers online and offline are going to want to be your friend and connect with you if you are being creative with your content and really earning that right to talk about the marketing aspects by saying interesting and amusing things. When people start to friend you on Facebook or Twitter, it is because they are liking and are interested in what you have to say. Again, that really builds the rapport and credibility and really helps in building those relationships.
So sending out a Twitter that you are in line at Starbucks is really not informative!
It is actually informative in a way because it goes back to it becoming an icebreaker. When you are talking about Starbucks, first you are telling people this is what you like and what interests you. There are other people that may be interested in that same topic, so that can actually be an icebreaker, and people can actually start having a conversation.
I wouldn’t have thought of that.
Sometimes when you want to say – let’s say what you are having for lunch, instead of saying, “I am having a tuna sandwich for lunch,” you could say, “I am having this great tuna sandwich recipe for lunch.”
I can’t imagine that anyone would be interested in that, but okay.
Somebody is out there saying, “I want that tuna recipe. How about sharing it with me. I would like to try it.” That has happened, and I have seen it happen on Twitter many times.
Okay, the next thing you have is to be consistent, yes?
Yes, consistency is very important. When you go on social media sites, you don’t want to do it for one month and then disappear. You want to be consistent with it and take the time to do it. Just like when you go to an offline networking event, you really don’t want to show up one time and say, “Okay, this is not working for me; I have not met one person,” or, “It is just not going to bring me any business.” You really want to be consistent with it and do it on a regular basis, because you want to be transparent and you want to stay on top of minds.
One of the last things I wanted to cover is that networking etiquette that goes, again, for both offline and online. Be polite; be courteous. I actually have a rule against cursing. I don’t like anybody to curse, and I have actually followed a lot of people who have cursed on Twitter. I don’t know about anybody else, but that is just the way I feel; it is just a personal thing to be professional. Don’t bash your competition. I have seen that a lot on social media sites and offline networking events. You shouldn’t really be talking about your competition in negative ways. I think that practicing good etiquette really goes a long way.
The last two things are be patient. It takes a long time to build relationships, and you really need to be patient with that because, again, it really goes back to building credibility and a rapport first before anything is going to happen business-wise. And most importantly, have fun. A lot of people get frustrated and they think it is a never-ending task to do networking, but if you go in with the wrong attitude, it is not going to get you anywhere, and it is not going to work. Having that positive attitude is, again, going to go a long way.
These are basically the rules that apply to both networking offline and online.
That is a great list.
Priscilla, I know you had a question for Mirna as well.
She answered a lot of it talking about the content on Twitter. Twitter is the social networking site that I am the least familiar with. I know that there is a limit on terms of how many words you can use, and I am just a little confused about Twitter, and if there is anything else you would like to add to explain it a little bit more to me, that would be great.
Sure. Twitter is just another free social networking site. We can refer to it as mirco-blogging platform. What it does is that it allows users to send and read other members’ updates known as Tweets. Your updates are called Tweet. You are only allowed to put 140 characters. Instead of writing this big, huge blog about something, you just have 140 characters to say what you need to say. When you write a Tweet, it actually gets updated to your Twitter followers so everyone that is following you on Twitter will see your message. And if they like your message, they can re-Tweet it to their followers, and you can have a conversation back and forth with them, as well, if something peaks their interest.
Does that explain it a little bit better?
Yes, it does. Thank you.
Mirna, what is your Twitter address or name?
I am at Mirna Bard, so it is M-I-R-N-A Bard.
For BNI members who want to follow me on Twitter, it’s I Misner; that is my Twitter name. I would love to see some of you there, and also on Facebook.
Mirna, you have a Web site that is about to go up, MirnaBard.com.
For the BNI members who would like a little more information about your social media strategy and coaching work that you do, they can go to that Website, MirnaBard.com.
I really appreciate your information. I think it is really valuable, and I hope our BNI members have benefitted from it. Thank you very much.
Priscilla, back to you.
Okay, thank you both. That was very, very interesting.
I want to remind you that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com which is the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you’ll join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.