Table Networking

Sometimes the protocol at an event calls for you to sit at a table. In this situation, your first move should be to listen and learn what you can from those sitting with you. Then at the appropriate moment, start into the conversation by asking questions to draw out others. Doing this, you will always be perceived as interesting and no one will consider you as monopolizing the conversation.

Are You Selling or Networking?

When you interact with others are you selling or networking? Good question, huh? How do you know? What is the difference? Simple!

Sales is the simple act of taking away someone’s pain or providing them pleasure based on the goods or services you have to offer.

Networking is the noble act of taking away someone’s pain or providing them pleasure by any means available … information, contacts, or encouragement. Whatever you can do to add value to their life.

Everyday

Everyday something great happens in your life. Remember that. And everyday something disappointing happens in your life. Know that. More importantly, try to celebrate both. You should celebrate the great things because they take you to new heights. But you should also (somehow) celebrate the disappointments as well. Without them, the great things would not seem as great.

Diagram It!

Take the time to create a visual representation of your network. Using a single sheet of paper, write your name in the middle and then draw lines representing the major spokes of your network, such as family, business, friends, and civic associations for starters. On each branch indicate the key individuals in each of these major areas. This will provide you with a greater awareness of the resources you have available to you.

How Much Does Your Chapter Care?

It’s interesting to visit various AmSpirit Business Connections chapters and see how different they really are. Ideally, your experience as a visitor should be the same no matter which AmSpirit chapter you visit. I was reading a new book this evening that I just purchased, “The Little Big Things: 163 Ways to Pursue Excellence” and in just the first few pages I was inspired to compare the content in the book to AmSpirit Chapters.In the first few sections, the book details how successful restaurants almost always have the same thing in common: spotless, clean-as-you-can-possibly-get, restrooms. They pay attention to the little details to provide a great experience for their customers.What about your AmSpirit Chapter? What little things does your Chapter do to make it a great experience for your guests? (That is, if you have guests coming on a frequent basis, but that’s another story for another day.)

  1. Do you have a sign in sheet for your guests to register their contact info so that you have a tracking process in place for your membership chair to follow up easily?
  2. Do your members arrive early so that they can meet guests and make them feel welcomed before the meeting begins?
  3. Do you follow an agenda for the meeting so that your chapter is organized?
  4. Do your chapter officers provide their weekly reports in detail or do they often say ‘no report’ or give it little attention like ‘I’m the Secretary, I track referrals, back to you Mr. Vice President’?
  5. Do your members stay afterward to talk with guests and ask them if they have any questions about the chapter or the organization?
  6. Does your chapter get involved in the area wide events offered every month by AmSpirit HQ (MORE meetings) or other Chapter Socials? Does your chapter promote your socials on the AmSpirit web site?
  7. Do you as a member make an effort to get out to other chapters to meet other AmSpirit members and see how you can help one another?
  8. If you see a member struggling to give or receive referrals do you make a point to approach them in order to offer help?
I’m sure there are other ‘little things’ that I could list here but this is a great start. When you have a chapter doing none of these things or very few of them, you might as well hang a sign outside your meeting space that says, “We Don’t Care”.

Don’t Be A Zero

Here is a simple mathematical fact: zero times any other number equals zero.

We can easily analogize that mathematical fact to your success in business like this …

All your accumulated knowledge … all your certifications and designations … and all your experiences will amount to nothing unless you are not committed to developing strong relationships with others.

Be it bosses, colleagues or subordinates … clients, vendors or competitors … civic officials, charitable leaders or volunteer coordinators. If you commit to having a great relationships with those around you, you cannot help but be successful.

Here is the great secret to business success that rarely even gets a mention with Harvard MBA’s: People only do business with … people only associate with … people only serve to advance those that they KNOW, LIKE AND TRUST.

Think about it. Others will NOT support you unless they KNOW you (and you do not support others unless you know them). Other will NOT support you if they do not LIKE you (and you do not support others unless you like them). And, others will NOT support you unless they TRUST you (and you do not support others unless you trust them). These three elements – know, like, and trust – are the building blocks of great relationships.

The bottom line is this: If you want business success, then focus on your relationships with others. In short, when it comes to coming out on top in the business world – whether in corporate America or small business America – Relationships are everything. Focus on them … don’t be a zero.

Do You Just Belong?

We have all been there. In an effort to bolster our high school or collegiate transcripts, we embarked on a mission to belong to as many clubs and organizations as we could – the science club, cross country team, and student council, to name just a few.This can certainly be a reasonably successful strategy for getting into college. And it can be of great assistance in landing that first job. After all, coupled with our decent grades, this listing of extracurricular activities makes us appear well rounded.But simply belonging to a litany of organizations is of limited value once we are out of school and into the real world. The problem is that “just belonging” is not very effective for developing a productive network.The foundation upon which a productive network is built is a mutual knowing, liking and trusting. Here, a productive network requires developing solid relationships, which cannot be achieved through the loose affiliation associated with “just belonging.”

To make our memberships meaningful networking experiences, we need to avoid having a broad array of affiliations with limited involvement. In exchange, we need to limit our affiliations and become more involved. In other words, time constraints dictate that we need to get more involved with fewer organizations.

There are no hard and fast rules regarding the appropriate number of organizations in which we should involve ourselves. The general rule is to belong to only as many organizations as we can provide sufficient involvement to make our time worthwhile.

What clubs and organizations we choose to be involved in is a professional decision, personal to each of us. In other words, it will depend for each of us on a variety of issues, not limited to our own beliefs and convictions, the industry in which we are involved, our product or service, where we live, where we work and our goals. In short, an organization in which we join should be one in which we are interested enough to have a sufficient involvement.

This certainly begs the question, what constitutes sufficient involvement? There are as many levels of involvement as there are organizations with which to be involved. Certainly on the one extreme, being involved could constitute being a creator or founder of a club or organization.

Although perhaps not as ambitious, our involvement could come in the form of serving as an officer, committee chair or board member of an organization or club. If that is our choice of involvement, we need to choose the position that best complements our talents and allows us to fulfill our obligations to the best of our abilities.

Sufficient involvement, however, does not require something as formal as being a founder or being in a leadership position. We can become sufficiently involved by simply assisting with the completion of a project or making a significant contribution to a discussion. In fact, involvement could be as simple as being around and mingling before and after the meeting.

Whatever the choice of involvement, the test of sufficiency is simple. We need to ask ourselves, with respect to the club or organizations to which we belong, if we were not at its meeting or event, would we be missed? If our answer is yes, our involvement is sufficient. If no, we simply need to become more involved.

What is so special about being involved? When we become involved with the clubs and organizations to which we belong, we transform ourselves. When we become involved, we are no longer merely just a name on a roster, but a face, a handshake and a smile with whom people can become familiar.

When we become involved, soon our familiar face and smile is not just another face in the organization. We become a person with common cares, concerns and goals.

When we become involved, others have the opportunity to know, like and trust us. From here it is inevitable that our network becomes more productive.