Most networking training focuses on networking skills rather than networking strategy. Knowing how to network is good, but you need to know what your intended outcome is for any networking group or meeting.
The mindset of BNI is “Givers Gain,” but that doesn’t exclude setting goals for the number and type of referrals you want to get and how to help people give you the best referrals.
Picture a conversation between your “champion” and your prospect. What is your prospect going to say that cues your champion to think of you? It won’t often be the obvious thing, e.g. “I’m looking for a great financial advisor.” Instead, it will be a statement of a major life change that a financial advisor can help with.
Make sure your statement about who you want to meet can pass the ten-year-old test. Will a ten-year-old not only understand it but listen all the way to the end? Be as specific as possible.
The only differences in networking globally are the macro-cultural differences. Ultimately, people are very similar. Business around the world is about building trust.
Networking strategy comes down to investing in relationships, no matter where you are in the world.
Brought to you by The Global Networking Show.
Complete Transcript of BNI Podcast Episode 376 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to The Official BNI Podcast brought to you by the GlobalNetworkingShow.com, a monthly Google Hangout show hosted by Andy Lopata and Dr. Ivan Misner. I am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, CA. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and Chairman of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello Ivan, how are you today?
I am doing great. I happen have a person that you mentioned in the introduction. I have my cohost with me on the Global Networking Show here on the podcast today. Andy Lopata has been labeled one of Europe’s leading networking strategists by the Financial Times. He is well known to many BNI members as the cohost of the Global Networking Show, which you mentioned. He and I regularly interview leading networking and business experts from all around the world on our YouTube show, Google Hangout show.
Andy is also a blogger for the Huffington Post. He is a regular contributor to SuccessNet, our newsletter. And he writes for a number of business magazines in the UK, as well as being quoted in the media in the UK and overseas.
You know, there is a handful of people who I would consider really an expert in networking, and Andy is one of the few people on that list. Andy, it is a real pleasure to have you on the BNI podcast.
Thank you very much, Ivan, and hello to Priscilla as well.
Yes. Hi, Andy. Welcome.
You know, the Global Networking Show- great idea. It was your idea. I appreciate you inviting me to cohost it. If listeners here on the podcast haven’t heard the show, go to GlobalNetworkingShow.com. You can see all of the shows that we have done there. They are recorded and are available in archive, so you can go back and listen to old shows.
Andy, we aren’t here to talk about the Global Networking Show. We want to talk about networking globally and strategically, which leads me to my first question. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of approaching your network strategically?
Of course, yes. Thank you, Ivan. You know, I term myself a business networking strategist because for years, people have been talking about networking skills but not networking strategy. The focus has been on how to work a room but not why you are in the room in the first place.
When I ran networking groups, what I found was a lot of people were coming along to networking groups because they were invited. They were staying and they were joining because they really liked the buzz. At no point in the process were they thinking, “What am I going to get out of this? What am I doing? What is my outcome?”
That led to just poor results- poor activity, poor participation and that led to poor results. So one of my key areas of focus is explaining to people how to approach networking from a more strategic point of view, how to understand exactly what you can get out of it and then how to map your actions as a result of that thinking. Simply having a clear outcome in mind, understanding how your networking can help you.
It doesn’t have to be groups- I use this as an example because it is a BNI podcast. Whether it is a formal networking group or whether it is looking at building a network of people to support you, having a clear idea of that outcome is absolutely cake but not enough people do it.
You know, I think you hit the nail on the head. It is a skillset that a lot of people talk about, but people don’t talk about the mindset, thinking about it strategically at all. In BNI, we go at it from the concept of givers gain, the idea that if you give business to people you are going to get business in return.
One of the things that I think chapters and members can do better is to really think about – you talked about it- what do you really want to get out of it? What number of referrals? What kind of business are you looking for?
Maybe you could share with us some top tips for helping people give you the best referrals that they possibly can. How do you set it up so that people can give you good referrals?
I think the way you phrased that question, Ivan, is the key. How do you help people give you referrals? What a lot of people do is see it from their own standpoint and say, “I want this referral.” They are not in the shoes of the people who can help, or the shoes, indeed, of the person they have come to meet.
What I always encourage people to do is to picture a conversation between the person I call your champion, or your referral partner, and your prospect, the person you want to do business with. More often than not, that conversation is going to take place when you are not in the room, so try to picture that conversation. When those two are in conversation, first of all, what is your prospect going to say that your referral partner, your champion, is going to be able to recognize you in?
To give you an example, a lot of financial advisors will say, “Who do you know who needs financial advice? Who do you know who needs to look at their pensions?” Now, in the last 15 years of doing this, I have hardly had anyone say to me, “Do you know a good financial advisor?” Maybe two or three or four times. That is not going to get you a lot of results.
I need to be looking out for people who are saying, “My daughter has just had a baby,” or, “I am just being made redundant,” or, “I just got a new job with a bigger salary,” because all of those are great circumstances in which there is an opportunity to introduce a financial advisor.
If you are a financial advisor, you need to be educating your networker to recognize those opportunities and then what to say. And then when you’re educating your network about that, you need to talk to them in a jargon-free way, in a way that is sticky and transferrable, easy for them to understand, easy for them to remember, easy for them to repeat accurately- which means keeping it very concise. And the tip I give is to then take the ten year old test.
That is, tell a 10-year old who you want to meet. I always suggest that it is one that you know, not a random 10-year old off the street. That could land you in trouble. But take a 10-year old and say this is who I want to meet and this is why. Then ask them to repeat it back to you in their own words because that is the attention span I have for your business if I am not in your industry, that of a 10-year old. I don’t know your business like you do and I don’t have the level of concentration to put into it keep it really simple for people.
Yeah. I think that is a really good starting point for sure. If people can’t understand what it is that you are doing, they certainly can’t refer you, which is kind of related to another sort of semi-related issue, which is people tend to sort of “shotgun” what it is that they do. They are very general in what it is that they do. My experience has been that, you know, specific is terrific. Being laser specific about some of the things that you do actually gets a better result than “I am a full service printer.”
Yeah. In networking groups that I used to run, we used to have people who would save you money on your telephone bills. Frequently, I would hear them ask in their 60-second presentations, “Who do you know who has a telephone?” Much too broad. Much too broad. And they got no referrals. If they said, “Who do you know who has an elderly parent who lives on their own but not in care?”- laser specific as you say- people instantly would see in their minds the image of someone they know. People would listen to them because they know someone in that position. They are thinking of them now.
What we try and do is cram in too much information. People should just keep it simple, and as you say, be laser-specific.
It really does work much better. It’s simple techniques such as – and I do this with audiences from time to time- think of four things that are white and write it down. Then say, okay, think of four things that are white in a refrigerator and you just get a much quicker response. People can hone down their thoughts much better when it is specific and it is the same way when it comes to actually getting referrals. The more specific, the more likely you are to get those referrals.
That’s right. If you build relationships with people in your chapter on a one-to-one basis and you get to know them personally, then you know who they know and when you do that, you can often ask for specific referrals based on that individual’s network of knowledge and make it easy because you know who they know and you know what they understand, and you hone your request on that conversation to that person. So you really lay it on a plate for them.
We are almost out of time, and I have one more topic that I would like to touch upon, and that is networking globally, networking across the world. BNI is a global organization in 57 countries. We are starting to do more networking globally literally in BNI because of BNI Connect and because members are able to connect with one another. Can you give some advice to networking with people around the world? I mean, it is- we do call it the global networking show, so-
It is. We have had guests from almost every continent so far in the nine or ten months that we have been running the show, Ivan. What has been interesting is in all of my experience from speaking internationally as well, I don’t think there are that many differences between people. I think that certain societies are in different stages of the journey when it comes to networking, depending on how business has evolved in their country. I have been to places that may well have been a few years behind where the UK is now, and where America is now.
I am coming to the States to deliver some training for the first time in November. I am anxious to see how we compare to each other. But in terms of attitudes and approaches, the only differences that I have seen are the macro-cultural differences. Educate- you have in southeast Asia, for example. How you engage with people in the Middle East. You have to be aware of that.
But when it comes down to it, you are dealing with people. They are people with the same problems, the same challenges, the same desires and the same approach. I don’t think we have had any guests on the show who have disagreed, either with each other or with us when it comes to approach. That speaks volume to me about the fact that it becomes much easier to network globally because ultimately, people are very similar.
On a recent trip to Iran, I was saying to people that I had more in common in some ways with the people that I was meeting and speaking with in Iran than maybe with my neighbors. I think we can- it makes that so much easier to network with each other across borders.
I think you are right and I think it’s counter intuitive because people just assume that people around the world do business in a different way. What I have found is there is a lot more similarity than dissimilarity. You know, we all speak the language of trust. If you are an entrepreneur, trust is critical. It’s all about building that trust. Any last comment before we wrap up here? Andy, it has been great having you on this podcast.
I would just agree with you. I think that last point is actually key to everything that we talked about on this podcast, whether it is networking strategies, referral strategies or just getting some people globally. It comes down to building trust and it comes down to relationships. Everything that you need to do in networking is investing in relationships.
You have the VCP process which says it all. You build those relationships over time. You develop the credibility, the trust, and you let the profitability come later.
Andy, thanks for being on BNI Podcast. For listeners, if you haven’t had the chance, go to our show GlobalNetworkingShow.com. You can like us on Facebook, the Global Networking Show. We have show that Andy and I do every month. It is about a half hour. Earlier shows were closer to an hour. We have cut them down to about a half hour now. Come and watch some of our shows. Participate. We would love to see you there.
Andy, thanks so much for being on the podcast. Priscilla, back to you.
Thanks for inviting me. Thanks for having me on.
Okay. Well, I would like to thank both of you very much. That was a very interesting show. I would like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the GlobalNetworkingShow.com, which hosted by Andy Lopata and Dr. Ivan Misner. 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.