What does the average person think it takes to be a better networker? Dr. Misner recently surveyed 3400 business people about the top behaviors they’d like to see in a great networker. Here are the top 7 results, in reverse order.
Characteristics of a great networker
- Follows Up
- Sincere / authentic
- Helps others / collaborative
- Positive attitude
- Good Listener
All of this ties in with the idea that networking is more like farming than like hunting. Networking skills are really important. Working to improve them is even more important.
Brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube.
Complete Transcript of Epidsode 501 –
Hello everybody 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?
Hi Priscilla. You know, for this being the 501st podcast, it’s kind of cool that I am actually in a different country this year. I am in Seoul, South Korea. This is my first visit to South Korea. I am really, really excited to be here and meet all of the many, many members we have throughout the country. So happy 501st podcast from Seoul, South Korea.
Thank you very much. We are moving towards the 1000th podcast.
A few years to go, but yes, that is what I certainly hope we can achieve. So today’s topic is seven ways to better networking. You know, a lot of people offer advice on what it takes to be good at networking, myself amongst them. I mean, certainly, that is what I do, help people and teach them how to network more effectively.
One thing that I think has been left out of the equation is what does the average person think about what it takes to be a better networker? You know networking involves interacting with others. So what do those others think that it takes to be great at the skill?
I think this is important that we all be cognizant of other people’s expectations and adjust our behavior accordingly if we want to make the kind of impression that will work to build a powerful personal network.
Recently, I took the opportunity to gather almost 3400 survey responses from business people all around the world. I gave them roughly 20 different characteristics on networking. I asked them to pick the top behaviors that they would like to see Ina great networker. From those responses, I identified the top seven characteristics of what people believe makes a great networker. Here are those top seven characteristics, from number seven first. I will go backwards to the number one characteristic.
Number seven from almost 20 different characteristics was being approachable. Being approachable. One respondent said that people will forget what you said and what you did but they will never forget how you made them feel. Effective networking starts with approachability. Everything else that I am about to describe follows from this and from that person’s perspective, everything else that they identify as being important follows from being approachable.
Number six skill based on the survey of 3400 people was being trustworthy. One respondent said it best when she said, “It doesn’t matter how successful the person is. If I don’t trust them, I don’t work with them.” When you refer someone, you are putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust someone and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well. Trustworthy was number six.
Number five, follow up. If you offer opportunities where a simple piece of information, a special contact or a qualified business referral to someone who consistency fails to follow up, you will soon stop wasting your time with this person. One respondent said that when it comes to networking, the fortune lies in the follow up. Many people just don’t follow up anymore.
By the way, Priscilla, this is the one that blows me away the most. Why would someone join BNI – in all honesty, this survey was not just BNI members. It was 3400 people. It was open to the public, not just BNI members. But I do hear BNI members sometimes say, ” I gave a referral and they didn’t follow up.”
I scratch my head and am like, “Really? You would go join an organization, go to weekly meetings for a year or two years or ten years and not follow up on a referral? That is insanity.”
So, follow up. For me, I could not agree more. I would probably even put it up higher, but that came in at number five in the the survey.
Number four, sincerity and being authentic. Sincere and authentic. So you can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you are not sincerely interested in the other person, they will know it. Those who have developed successful networking skills convey their sincerity in return. One respondent stated that it is all about authenticity and the authenticity that someone shows you.
I can say that we have all seen people who are seemingly good at networking, but they lack sincerity. I have to say that faking it is not sustainable in networking.
Number three, helps others and is collaborative. For years I have said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people show that you care. One survey respondent said that people want to network who have a collaborative attitude. Individuals who have a collaborative attitude.
Helping others can be done in a variety of ways from clipping a helpful article and emailing it to someone to putting them in touch with a person who can help them with a specific challenge. Several respondents commented about not wanting to networking with “people who were in it for themselves”. That’s the quote. Really, a number of people used that phrase. They don’t want to network with people who are in it for themselves. So a willingness to collaborate and help others as it builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship. That was number three.
Number two, number two, a positive attitude. This one does not surprise me. As a matter of fact, most of these seven do not surprise me. I anticipated that they would be in the top ten, number two in particular. Positive attitude. The first thing that people see from you is your attitude. How you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals.
A positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets. Others want to be around them and will send their friends, family and associates to them. They will refer to them. Positive attitude, number two.
And the number one of the seven ways to better networking. Number one. I should ask you any guesses as to what number one might be? That is really putting you on the spot.
No, I can’t imagine.
Number one is being a good listener.
There you go.
At the top of the list is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you as BNI members, if you are listening to this- the faster you and your networking partners in your chapter learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you will establish a valuable relationship.
I have said this many times in the podcast and in my presentation: a good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. This survey really nails that. Listen to people’s needs and concerns and find opportunities to help them. You can’t help others if you don’t know what they need. You find that out by listening.
In many ways, networking is about connecting the dots, but to do that you have to listen so you can help people make the connection that they are looking for. So each one of the characteristics that I just outlined tie into the notion of farming, not hunting. Think about that.
Each and every one of these. Approachable, being trustworthy, following up, being sincere, helping others, collaborative, positive attitude, good listener. Each of these really tie into the notion of farming, not hunting. It is really about building mutually beneficial business realtionships. Only then can you succeed in creating a powerful personal network.
As a young man, I studied under Dr. Warren Bennis, who was at the time at the University of Southern California the leading expert on leadership. He taught me that understanding the characteristics of a great leader was really important. However, what is even more important was understanding how to apply those. He told me, “Know what you are good at and work to enhance those skills. And know what you are not good at and surround yourself with people who can help you improve those skills.”
As with leadership, I think networking skills are really important. What is even more important is working to improve them and learning how to improve them effectively. I think that’s what really counts. So these are the seven ways to better networking. If you are listening to this, I would urge you to share this with your BNI members and comment here if you think there is something not in the top seven that should be in the top seven.
I would love to see your comments here on BNIpodcast.com. That’s everything I;be got, Priscilla, unless you have any thoughts.
Well, my main thought is just how difficult it is sometimes to keep yourself from interrupting somebody who is telling you something because you want to chime in with something that relates to you or, you know. I find myself having to stop myself from doing that.
Yeah. It’s not easy, is it? I mean, I get that. I totally get that. I think one of the most important things that I could say when someone says that to me or when I am having that same urge, I will say to myself, “Remember, Ivan, it is more important to be interested than interesting.”
That’s a great phrase, right there.
So if I show interest, that is really important. Especially when you are meeting someone and you are trying to build a referral relationship. When I go to networking events, I am there to share information and knowledge, so I do tend to talk more than when I am in a true networking environment where I am trying to build long term relationships with people.
I have to constantly remember myself. Get out of teaching mode and be in listening mode. I think that is probably good advice for most of us when we are trying to network.
I think you are right.
Great input. Hey, before we wrap up, Priscilla, I just want to mention one thing. Next week, we are going to do the last part of the survey, which is the five least important skills for networking. The five least important. There are some surprises in there. So come back next week, everyone. Thanks, Priscilla.
Okay great. Well, I think that is it for this week. I want to thank you, Dr. Misner, for that great podcast. I would just like to remind the listeners that this podcast has been brought to you by the Networking for Success Channel on YouTube. Thank you 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.