It’s easy to get overwhelmed by commitments and obligations. You can’t get wasted time back. Here are a few tips to help you get a high return on your networking investment.
- Be “on” 24/7: opportunities can come at any time.
- Learn to play golf—or something else that aligns with your interests and skills and those of the people you want to meet.
- Have “purposeful meal” meetings that give you more than just calories.
- Make first impressions count. Take a closer look at your appearance and body language.
- Seek out a referral networking group or join a chamber of commerce.
- Sponsor select events or host a purposeful event.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcription of BNI Podcast Episode 084 –
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 Berkeley, 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?
I’m doing great, Priscilla. Today we’re going to talk about getting value for your time. That’s the topic of today’s podcast.
Great, okay. We’re ready.
As the founder of BNI, which is an international organization, I sometimes get overwhelmed by commitments and obligations, so I know firsthand how important it is to make the most out of your time. You can’t get back an hour that you spent time on that’s lost time. You spend an hour doing something that’s a complete waste of time, you can’t get that hour back. Have you ever been in a situation where you go, “That’s two hours of my life I’m never going to have back,” because you were participating in something that was just a waste of your time? It’s not possible to get it back.
So since you know you can’t retrieve an hour or two hours, much less a day of precious time, you obviously want to spend it wisely and as effectively as you can. So if you spent your time networking, you’d want to get a high return on your investment, right? So here are some tips on what you can do and what you can focus on that give you various ways of spending your networking time. Many of these are mentioned in the book, The 29% Solution, which was released this year, written by myself and Michelle Donovan.
The first thing is to be on 24/7. Be on the top of your networking game all the time, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Networking opportunities present themselves in the most unsuspected places and times. If you snooze, you lose. If you don’t take those opportunities as they come before you, you’re going to miss them. In many, many surveys on networking and what makes a good networker, one of the top ten traits of the good networker are somebody who seizes opportunities on a regular basis. They’re not pushy, but they know how to network 24/7.
Here’s the second one that I think sometimes people forget, and those who don’t forget sometimes don’t take it seriously, and that is learn to play golf or something. Challenge yourself to a game of golf or some other activity that aligns with your interests and your skills. It’s got to align with your interests and your skills. A lot of business happens on the golf course. It could easily happen on a badminton court or the soccer field or across the pool table. Find things that you’re interested in that other business associates are interested in, and spend time doing those things. I’m a pretty bad golfer but have spent a fair amount of time out on the golf course, but there’s some other things. For example, chess; I love to play chess, and I’ve played chess with many, many business associates, and it’s a great way to have a somewhat leisure activity while you’re building a relationship with someone.
Third, have purposeful meal meetings. Get more value out of your meal meetings. If you’re going to meet and eat, you may as well get more out of the experience than just calories. Make the activity pull its weight as an opportunity for business networking. For example, when you’re at conferences or trade shows, don’t just eat with friends or people that you already know; try to connect with some people that you want to build the relationship with. If you are planning on going out to lunch at your office, invite a business associate that you want to get to know better. Have a purposeful meal meeting.
Fourth, make first impressions count. Make sure you get off on a good start. Learn to take a closer look at your appearance and your body language. Are they helping you start good conversations, or are they ending them before you can even say a word? I saw a blog that was posted on a networking Web site about someone coming to a meeting without their dentures. Oh, my gosh, what is that person thinking? You can’t represent yourself as a professional if you’re going to do that. Now, that’s an extreme example, but the clothes you wear are important, and you don’t have to come in a suit and tie or dressed in just professional clothes.
For example, we have painting contractors at BNI. I have no problem with them wearing their painting contractor clothes to a BNI meeting, but they need to be clean. They need to be pressed. They need to look like the professional that they are. And I’ve seen people come in, contractors come in in clothes that just didn’t represent the clean image and a professional image. Again, you don’t have to wear a suit every time you come to a business meeting, but you do want to look professional.
Seek out a referral networking group or join a Chamber of Commerce. If you’re going to venture out and attempt to join a group, the first steps should be to seek out – and I’m speaking to the choir here; this is a BNI podcast, so it’s mostly BNI member – so participate in a group like BNI. Also, join groups like the Chamber of Commerce, because that gives you more visibility. BNI should not be the only network that you’re a member of. You should participate in a Chamber of Commerce or a service club or an online network like e-academy or LinkedIn, so that you’re making connections with other people in other venues, in addition to BNI.
Number six, sponsor select events and/or host a purposeful event. Focus on how you can leverage sponsorship opportunities and specific events to position your business in front of key people. Of course, you need to take the initiative to make this happen. Oftentimes in BNI, there are regional events. If there’s a regional event, you think it’s going to be a good turnout, you should sponsor one of the tables that the local director is doing. And if you’re going to do that, don’t get behind the table; stand out in front of the table and make sure to meet all of the other members that are coming around. There’s a great opportunity to connect with other BNI members from other areas. And I think hosting a purposeful event of some kind is great. If you’re in the local Chamber of Commerce, if you have an office, volunteer to have the Chamber mixer at your office sometime. In BNI, if they’re doing events from time to time, maybe a Christmas party or something that they want to host a mixer, the local chapter of BNI, volunteer your office for that. Now you get people coming to your office to see what it is that you do, and that’s really valuable for your time.
I actually did that. I had a BNI party here for our chapter, and I heard my engineer and everybody got to record, and it was a great experience.
What a fantastic idea, not only to have the party but to give them a taste of what it’s like that you do. I think that’s brilliant.
Thank you. Well, have we come to the end, or do you have something you’d like to add?
Well, just to wrap up, working on these strategies can strengthen your network; it allows you to get more return on your networking investment, increase your visibility within the community, and most of all, to get the most value from the time that you spend networking.
That’s it for today, Priscilla. Thank you.
Okay, great, Dr. Misner. Thank you so much.
Well, listeners, this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, the leading site on the Net for networking downloadables. Thanks so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice, and we hope you will join us next week for another exciting episode of The Official BNI Podcast.