Today’s topic comes from Dr. Misner’s new book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect, co-authored with Brennan Scanlon. To succeed at networking, you need to be self-aware, selfless, and selfish.
Don’t feel too guilty if you’re networking to get business. Everyone is. But you need to be self-aware. Know what you want from the meeting and what you want from the relationships. Understand your product or service and be able to communicate it clearly. Know whether the people you’re talking to are in or have connections to your target market.
The only way you’re going to motivate anyone to refer business to you is to be selfless. Be genuinely interested in the people you’re talking to. Focus on them when talking to them. Ask “How can I help you?”
If you’ve given a lot to someone and received nothing in return, you need to have a conversation with them. Ask “How can I help you get referrals for me?” You need to be selfless first, but it’s okay to be a little bit selfish. People will be willing to help you if you have helped them.
The Official BNI Podcast will be on winter break December 23rd and 30th, and will return the first week in January. Meanwhile, you can order the book from the BNI Member Store.
Brought to you by Networking Now.
Complete Transcript of Episode 437
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 am Priscilla Rice, and I am coming to you from Live Oak Recording Studio in Berkeley, California. I am joined on the phone today by the Founder and the Chief Visionary Officer of BNI, Dr. Ivan Misner. Hello, Ivan. How are you today?
I am doing great, and I gave you a tongue twister for a topic today, didn’t I?
You sure did. What is that about? Tell us.
This is some material out of my new book. It just came out within the last month. It is called Avoiding the Networking Disconnect and it is co-written with a BNI Director- a great guy- Brennan Scanlon. I will include a link here on this podcast where, if you are interested, you can go and check out the book. This is some material from the book that I think BNI members might be interested in. And though it is a tongue twister, it is a great way of looking at your networking efforts because you really need to do three different things. You need to be self-aware. You need to understand what you want to get out of your networking activities. You need to be selfless.
We had a podcast recently with Bob Burg talking about the Go-Giver. That is a certain amount of selflessness. Givers gain is about selflessness. It is okay to be a little bit selfish, but first you need to be self aware and selfless. Let’s talk about this a little more.
Most people, a lot of people- and I think BNI members are certainly better than most- think networking is all about them. That is why we called the book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect, because everybody shows up at networking events wanting to sell and hardly anyone is there to buy. That is the networking disconnect. They are just a little selfish. They are there to get business.
But look, don’t feel too guilty if you are thinking, “Look, I am networking to get business.” Everybody is. It is completely natural. The counter intuitive part is the being selfless. So let’s talk about the three and how they all work together.
You should never walk into a networking event or a BNI meeting without knowing what you want from the meeting and from the relationships. That is not being cold and impersonal. That is being realistic. That’s smart business. You need to have a plan. I think most people want to go into a networking meeting to get referrals, but they don’t think about how. They don’t think about the kinds of relationships. They are not thinking it through in some sort of way.
You know, have you thought about what you want before you go to it? It is important that you really think about and fully understand what your target market is. Does the person that you are speaking to in a meeting represent your target market? Do they have the ability to connect with people who can get you into your target market? So be self-aware.
Understand what your product and service is in a way that you can communicate it clearly, and know who you are talking to see if they are your target market or have connections with your target market. Understanding yourself and your business and what you want out of your networking efforts is critical to being self-aware.
You have to then be selfless. This is what our parents taught us, basically, growing up. Now that you have determined what it will take to grow your business, it is time to motivate your potential referral source to think about you when they hear of someone with a need for your product or services. The only way this is going to happen is if you absolutely lose yourself in your new friend, your new contact.
Have you ever had a conversation with someone who hung on your every word or made spectacular eye contact? And then every time you met them again they did it again? Have you ever met someone like that?
Very rarely, but yeah, they exist.
Yeah, I mean, they are interested in you. That is what you need to be in your networking. That is what we as networking professionals need to be when we are working with other people. It is about being interested rather than being interesting. I think so often we are so focused on being interesting that we don’t come across as interested. That is really the selfless part.
One of the things that I really like about BNI is a lot of people use an expression that I have used a lot in BNI. That is, “How can I help you?”
We have a key leader in this organization, Andy Hart. He has this great story about- he is now the President of Global Operations for BNI. He started as member and showed up at a chapter and this this conversation with a member of the chapter. The member of the chapter, when Andy was a visitor said, “Andy, I would like to learn more about what you do. How can I help you with your business?”
Andy wasn’t even sure he was going to join BNI, and he said, “I didn’t even know this guy. I come in and he is asking how he can help me in some way. I have to be part of this organization because this is an organization where they are focusing on finding ways to help.” That act of selflessness that one person made with Andy got Andy to join and become a member.
He then became and Executive Director with his wife, Sandra. He then became a District Director and is now President of Global Operations and Development. And all because somebody was very selfless and said, “How can I help you?” Now Andy and his wife, Sandra, impacted hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of people all around the world. It started with that act of selflessness.
Then there is the third phase. Be a little selfish. Some people are probably anxious for a couple reasons. Some people are anxious about time. ” I am networking. I want to get business.” And others are like, “Givers gain. It’s not about being selfish.”
A little bit of constructive selfishness is good. If you have given a lot of business to someone and have not seen anything in return, it is important to have that conversation. You have earned the right to speak to someone who you have given a lot of business to. You do it in a tactful way. I like to use that same phrase that was used for Andy, except spin it just a little bit. Instead of saying, “How can I help you?” say, “How can I help you get referrals for me?”
How can I help you help me?
That is basically what it is. You do that only when you have somebody who you have helped a lot. You have invested social capital in the relationship. You have been there for them. You have supported them. Now it is okay- what we tend to do is we meet someone and we day, “Hi Priscilla. I am Ivan. Maybe we can do business. Maybe you can refer me.” But you don’t even know me. That is completely the wrong way to go about it.
Instead, you build the relationship.
I invest in the relationship, and over time, if you are not investing back, then that is okay to sit down and say, ” How can I help you understand my business better so you can give me a referral?”
Isn’t that what we are essentially supposed to be doing at a meeting- it’s like training our sales team. The rest of the group is that sales team.
It is, but sometimes the sales team is asleep at the wheel. That is when you need to sit down with them and have the conversation. Here is how I started the conversation when I was building my business as a consultant. I would say to somebody, ” I was just going over my records and I found that over the last six months, I was able to pass you four referrals. I would like to talk to you about those. How have they worked out? Here is the first one. I think I heard you say that turned into a sale and now we have Thank You for Closed Business. How did that work out? Tell me about it.”
I would get the person to talk about it. Then I would go on to the second one. “How did this one work out? And how did this one work out?”
Now look, I knew going into the conversation how several of them worked out, and I knew that they worked out well. I may not have known all the details, so getting to those details is important. You lay the groundwork in the conversation to show them that you have contributed.
You know what is really funny is people don’t necessarily even think about- because of this givers gain and because the idea is to help one another- they haven’t really necessarily kept track of how much business you have sent them. I have actually talked to people who were like, “Wow, Ivan. Now that I think about it, you have really given me a number of referrals. I really appreciate that.”
So now you have laid the groundwork and if you do it tactfully and professionally, it comes across well. What you don’t want to do is say, “Come on. I have given you four referrals that worked out. Where is mine?”
That is not the way to do it. On the other hand, if you say, “I am so glad those worked out” or two out of the four or three out of the four turned into business. “I am really glad. How can I help you to maybe be able to reciprocate and send some referrals my way? I was hoping that in the discussion today, we could talk about how I can assist with that.”
That is just a nonthreatening way that you can have the conversation with someone to get referrals in return. So being a little bit selfish when you have done the investment is actually quite okay.
Okay. That is good to know.
You know, there is a rhythm to a relationship process. You have to ask yourself the questions: Does my business rely on referrals? If the answer is yes, those referrals come from people. Referral marketing, unlike any other form of lead generation, is 100% reliant on people being successful. They are going to be willing to help you, especially if you have helped them.
Cultivating referrals takes time. It takes commitment. You have to be willing to make that commitment. I think you have to have all three of the aspects that we just talked about. Being self-aware, what do you want to get out of your networking efforts? Being selfless, how do you help others? And selfish is maybe a little bit of a phrase that will put off some people, but it fits well to remember. It is okay to think about yourself as you are investing in others and thinking of how this impacts you and asking for help.
A lot of people are not necessarily willing to do that. Ask for help. You have to do that and ask for help in order to make your networking efforts worthwhile. Make sense?
That totally makes sense. That’s good.
That’s all I have for today. I have link in here. If you like this material, this concept, please take a look at this book, Avoiding the Networking Disconnect with my co-author Brennan Scanlon. I will invite Brennan on to a podcast soon and we will talk a little bit more about the content in this book. He really gave a lot of material. A lot of new stuff in this book that I think BNI members might enjoy.
That’s great, Ivan, and I think this was a great podcast to end our year with because we are going to be dark for the next two weeks, right?
Yes, we are. Towards the end of the year, we usually go dark and we will be starting up again in January with a whole new series of BNI podcasts. Thanks, Priscilla.
Thank you for a great year.
Thank you, and thank you for everything you do. We appreciate you.
Okay great. Well, that is it for this week. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by NetworkingNow.com, which is the leading site on the net for networking downloadables. Thank you so much for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we hope you will join us again for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.