Dr. Misner presents the first five commandments of networking at a mixer:
- Have your networking tools (business cards, name badge, etc.) with you at all times
- Set a goal for the event (such as 5 meaningful conversations)
- Act like a host, not a guest: greet people and introduce yourself; introduce them to others
- Ask questions and listen: remember, you have two ears and one mouth
- Don’t try to close a deal
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 032 –
Hello everybody and welcome back to the official BNI podcast, brought to you by networkingnow.com, the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. I am Priscilla Rice coming from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley California and I’m joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI., Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, how are you?
Doing great. I’m actually at BNI headquarters for the next several weeks, so I am not traveling. I just wanted to open up and say that, Priscilla, I think you are doing a great job on these podcasts, and I’m really looking forward to continuing to work on the podcast with you.
Thank you. I am really pleased to be doing it. So what topic do you have to share with us today?
Today we’re going to talk about the ten commandments of networking at a business mixer. We’re going to hit the first five of the ten commandments.
That sounds great. What would be the first commandment?
The first of the ten commandments is to have the tools to network with you at all times. The tools include things like your name on badge, business cards, brochures about your business and, of course, a pocket-sized business card file that you can carry other people’s business cards with- or a PDA so that you can have a contact information if you’re going to give a referral to someone.
This is interesting for me because it’s amazing how sometimes people will go to a business mixer and not have business cards. I always scratch my head about that. Why would you go to a networking event and not have business cards? Sometimes I understand that you run out of business cards. But I try to keep business cards in a lot of different places. I have them in two or three different places in my briefcase. I have them in the trunk of my car. I have them in the glove compartment of my car. I want to always make sure to have business cards with me everywhere I go.
Also, the badge ? these are the basic tools. You’re not going to be in business unless you have the tools of business networking. It means that you have to have tools. Things like a badge are really important even if it is just a stick-on badge although I recommend that everyone had a professional badge made up or use your BNI badge ? that would be fine. As a matter of fact, that would be very good. Use your BNI badge.
I remember going to a chamber mixture once and somebody wasn’t wearing a badge and everyone else was. The chamber didn’t provide stick-on badges for people. I asked if his badge fell off and he said no he didn’t put one of those things on because everybody there knows him. I said, ?I am sorry, I don’t know you. We’ve never met.?
I find it amazing that people assume that everyone knows them. That’s just not true. I carry professionally made badges in my briefcase to because my handwriting is not the best in the world and I don’t want to hand write something on a badge. All of these are the basic tools. You had to have them. It’s the first of the ten commandments.
It’s nice to have somebody wearing a badge. Even if you have met them, you might have forgotten their name.
That is very helpful. These are the basic tools, and you have to have the basic tools to get the job done. Also, set a goal for the number of people that you will meet before you go to the event.
Oftentimes, the only goal that people set before they cross the threshold into the mixer is the time that they plan on leaving. That is it. Well, I will stick around until 7:00 and then I have to go, or I will stay away from the hors d’oeuvres tonight. They’re setting goals that have nothing to do networking.
There are a couple of very simple ones that you can set before you go into any mixer. The first would be how many people you are going to meet. I’m not going to walk out of here and leave this mixer tonight until I have a meaningful conversation with five people or ten people or fifteen people.
Don’t be just a card collector. Be somebody who has an opportunity to have a meaningful conversation with a number of people. Whatever number works best for you- I think five to ten is a very reasonable- and do that number. It’s not a race. You don’t have to get 20 or 30 names, but you want to have a meaningful conversation with them but not so long that it takes up a large part of the mixer and you only talk to two or three or four people. Set a goal going into it.
Here’s another goal that you can set. Think about your contact spheres. A contact sphere is a group of people that have a symbiotic relationship ? the lawyer, the banker, the CPA ? that is a contact sphere. There is what I call a ?wedding mafia?- the caterer, the photographer, travel agents.
Think about what professions you are missing from your contact sphere, and that might be a great profession to look for. So if you go there and you say that you are the financial services business and you need to connect with the CPA because you don’t have a good CPA, then your goal tonight would be to meet at least two CPAs. If there are two CPAs in the room, you want to find them. You are going to find them and talk to them. In some countries, they might be called a CPA. They might be called a public accountant or another term, but you are going to find that accountant and you’re not leaving until then. That’s what I’m talking about with goals. Have something in mind before you walk through the door.
That’s a great idea. It can keep you from your shyness if you have that.
Yes. It helps if you have a sense of what you want to accomplish. Actually, the next one can deal very effectively with people who may be a little shy. That is the third one which is an act like a host and not a guest. That frees originally came from Dr. Adele M. Scheele. I don’t know did you ever read the book Skills for Success?
No, I haven’t.
It’s a great book. It has been around for two decades or more. Dr. Adele Scheele has a great story there. I will give you a very short version of it. She was at a party and she met somebody who was very shy and didn’t want to introduce himself. She asked him if he was always that way, and he said he had always been like that and didn’t like to introduce himself.
She asked if he ever through his own parties and he said of course. If somebody came to the door and you didn’t know them, would you be nervous to introduce yourself at your own party, she asked. He said no, not in his own party. She said why? He said because it was his party and he was the host.
She said really, when you think about it what’s the difference? A stranger is a stranger and why would you feel more uncomfortable introducing yourself at a party for someone else? He said it was because he was the host. She said it was just a mindset. When you’re someplace else, you can act like the host and not the guest.
I love that concept but it’s still kind of difficult for introverts. It’s easy to say act like the host. We extroverts can say that. Here is a technique that will help the introverts act more like a host: Most organizations have something similar to BNI with our visitor host. One of the things that I recommend is that you volunteer to be that position within the organization.
Let’s say it’s the chamber of commerce. Oftentimes it’s an ambassador. The ambassador sort of takes the role of what we have in BNI as the visitor host. Volunteer to be the visitor host or the ambassador because, now, it’s your job to make that connection. It’s easier to be the host. You can stand by the front door and as people walk in, you can say, ?Hi, my name is Ivan. I am the ambassador for the chamber,? or, ?I am the visitor host. Welcome to the group. Are there some people that you would like to meet? I would be happy to walk you around and introduce you.?
It’s so much easier to do that when it’s your job to do it than when you are just one of the participants and you have to walk around and introduce yourself. Does that make sense?
It’s a great technique, and if you really embrace that, you can be very, very successful with that kind of stuff. Two more. Number four is listen and ask questions. Listen and ask questions. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and they should use them both proportionately. What tends to happen is people just yak, yak, yak. They will talk about themselves but they’re not paying attention to the other person.
If you really want to network effectively, it’s almost like being a newspaper reporter. You ask one question after another. Find out about the person. Learn about them. I have to tell you that I know so much more about business today than I did twenty years ago by just asking questions. I really learned a lot about the business world. It’s a great technique, and people really appreciate when you pay attention. They know you’re paying attention because you have follow-up questions. That’s a great way to start to build a little bit of the relationship with someone and getting to know them just by paying attention.
People love to talk about themselves.
They do. People do love to talk about themselves, especially business people. Open them up and get them to talk more about themselves so that you can learn ways that you might be able to help them. That is the fourth.
Here is the fifth. Don’t try to close a deal. Networking is more about forming a new is about hunting. It’s about cultivating relationships and what tends to happen is people go to these mixtures and they meet somebody. They will hold out their hand and say, ?Hi my name is Ivan. What business are you in? We should be doing business. You should be buying my product.?
They just met. In a number of my books, I talk about than VCP process in business ?visibility creditability profitability. You start with visibility where people know you, and then you establish credibility where people trust you, and then you do business for people and there is profitability. All too often, people tried to jump straight from visibility to profitability ? ?Hi, my name is Ivan- let’s do business.?
They try to close the deal at mixers. That is where I think people get a bad impression about networking where they think it’s just about somebody out there passing out cards and trying to deal. It?s a big mistake to go into the networking process with that in mind, I think.
I agree. It makes people want to leave quickly and get as far away from you as they can.
Yeah right. That’s because they feel like there are vultures around them. They just want to close the deal.
They’re being hustled.
That’s right. Those are the five of the ten commandments. I thought maybe we would do two separate podcasts. Next week we will do the next five of the ten commandments. I wanted to spend just a little bit more time explaining each one so that members of BNI can get the first five in and then look for next week when we will do the next five of the ten commandments of networking at business mixers.
Well thank you, Dr. Misner, and I would like to say that this podcast has been brought to you by networkingnow.com. That’s it for this week. Thanks for listening. This Priscilla Rice and we will see you next week on the official BNI podcast.