It’s International Networking Week! In honor of the event, Dr. Misner is sharing 5 ways to be a better networker. Dr. Misner surveyed 3400 businesspeople around the world and asked them what makes a great networker. Here’s what they said you need to do to.
- Be a good listener.
- Develop a positive attitude.
- Collaborate to serve others.
- Be sincere and authentic.
- Follow up.
Each of these characteristic ties into the idea that networking is about farming, not hunting. Only when you build meaningful business relationships will you be a great networker.
You’ll be hearing more about this survey in future episodes. Meanwhile, share your ideas for top characteristics of great networkers in the comments.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success YouTube Channel.
Complete Transcript of Episode 493 –
Hello everyone and welcome back to the Official BNI Podcast, brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube, which features Dr. Ivan Miser and many other networking experts. 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 and where are you?
Hello Priscilla. I am at home in Austin, Texas this week. I try not to travel during International Networking Week. This is, everybody hopefully knows, International Networking Week. I try not to travel because I do a lot of live Skype presentations during the week.
If you didn’t know that this is International Networking Week, please go to InternationalNetworkingWeek.com and find out about it. International Networking Week was created by BNI. I, along with a number of Directors 10 years ago, started International Networking Week. It is now done globally.
I thought it would be really good today, since it is International Networking Week, to talk about five ways to be a better networker. Many people including me offer advice on what it takes to be better at networking, but one thing that is often left out of the equation is that networking often involves interacting with others. So it is really worth asking what the average person believes it takes to become great at networking.
If we want to make the kind of impression that works to build a powerful personal network, we have to be cognizant of what other people’s expectations are and then adjust out behavior accordingly. So I recently gathered over 3400 survey responses from business people all around the world. I listed roughly 20 different characteristics and asked respondents to pick behaviors that they most like to see in a great networker.
So for this sample in my podcast today, I am going to identify the top five characteristics. I will give them to you in order of the survey answers that the survey respondents gave me. So the number one characteristic that people felt was important in being a good networker -I did a survey of 3400 people all over the world. By the way, it wasn’t just BNI members. It was open to the public. The number one way was being a good listener, the number one characteristic. Being a good listener.
I think our success in networking really depends on how well we can listen to others. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you will be able to establish a valuable relationship.
You have heard me say a number of times on this podcast that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. When you are engaged in conversation, listen to the other person’s needs and concerns so that you can find opportunities to help him or her.
In many ways, networking really is about connecting the dots, and listening will enable anyone to make those kinds of connections. So the number one characteristic listed by the 3400 people in the survey was listening.
Number two, develop a positive attitude. Your attitude or how you take things in general is the first thing that people see from you. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you. It drives away referrals. By contrast, a positive attitude makes people want to cooperate and associate with you.
This is why positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and send their friends and family to go to them. It is one of the reasons why we say in our code of ethics it is about building positive relationships with other business professionals. A positive attitude is really, really important.
We see it in this survey as the number two characteristic. Networking with great networkers with a positive attitude is number two.
Number three is collaborating to serve others. Collaborating to help others or serve others. People done’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. I love that saying. Helping people puts that care into action so that others can see it at work.
One survey respondents in the survey said that people want to work with individuals who have a collaborative attitude. You can help others in a variety of ways from emailing a relevant article to putting them in touch with someone who has the knowledge or access to the system of a specific challenge.
Several respondents in the survey commented that they didn’t want to network with people who were in it for themselves. That was actually an expression used by several people. They didn’t want to network with people who were just in it for themselves. A willingness to collaborate is essential to building trust and establishing strong relationships.
Number four- be sincere and authentic. You can offer the help, the thanks and the listening ear but if you aren’t sincerely interested in helping the other person, he or she is going to know it. People who develop successful networking skills convey sincerely at every turn.
One person in the survey said that it is all about the authenticity that someone shows you. We have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking but they lack sincerity- and faking it isn’t sustainable in networking.
Number five, number five in is follow up. If you offer opportunities to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you will soon stop wasting your time with this person. It doesn’t matter if your call to action is a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral.
One respondent said that then it comes to networking, the “fortune lies in the follow up.” He said many people just don’t follow up anymore. I couldn’t agree more. I find it incredibly frustrating over the years when I have given a referral to someone and they didn’t follow up.
Could you imagine, Priscilla, someone saying, “I have a great referral. Somebody wants to go into the studio. They want to do [such and such].” And not following up that day? Priscilla, can you imagine that?
No. I can’t imagine it.
I can’t imagine it. It is outside- I don’t know. I don’t think it is just me. It is outside my realm of understanding that you would go to a referral organization like BNI every week and get a referral and not follow up. But it does happen. Very frustrating, and I think it is one of the things that leadership teams need to take a good look at.
When people aren’t following up, sit down and have a conversation with them. Guide them and coach them. Don’t just threaten to kick them out but coach them on the importance of follow up. It was in the top five of the networking characteristics.
So each of the characteristics that I have talked about here today ties into the notion of farming not hunting, about building mutually beneficial business realtionships. Only when you succeed in creating a powerful personal network does that work.
Priscilla, as a young man, I studied under Warren Bennis at the time. Warren was the world’s foremost expert on leadership and he taught me that understanding the characteristics of a great leader is important, but it is more important to understand how to apply those characteristics. “Know what you are good at and work to enhance those skills,” he told me. “Know what you are not good at and surround yourself with people who can help you improve those skills.”
The same holds true with networking. Working to better your skills and learning how to use them effectively and surround yourself with people who maybe it is not your strength. That is the way to network like a pro, as one of my books is called. That is the way to build your business through networking.
So those are the top five characteristics. Over time, you are going to be hearing more and more about this data. For example, I found out some answers on the difference between the under 30 crowd and the over 30 crowd. You might be surprised at some of the results because I tracked age. I tracked gender. So I will be talking about some of the differences of these in future podcasts and future articles.
If you are listening to this podcast, I would like to know what you think, let’s say, should be in the top 10. I gave you the top five. What are the other things that you think should be in the top 10 characteristics.
That’s all I’ve got for today, Priscilla, unless you have something you think should be in the top 10.
I just want to put Ina plug for your Networking Like a Pro book because I found that to be so valuable. I loved that book. I really encourage anybody, especially education coordinators to use it as a guide for their presentations. I just found it to be wonderful.
Well, thank you. I really appreciate that. You can find a link to the Networking Like a Pro book here on this podcast. So just go to the podcast and I think it’s about, let’s see, the fifth book down on the right hand side. You can get a link to that book and find out more. Thanks for mentioning the book. Again, I appreciate it, Priscilla.
That is all I have today.
Okay. Thank you, Dr. Misner. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by The Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thanks for listening. This is Priscilla Rice and we look forward to having you join us again next week for another exciting episode of the Official BNI Podcast.