Networking Rx: Ignorance On Fire (EPS 047)

Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, reminds us that taking action is most important, even if we don’t have all the answers.

http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/ignorance-on-fire-eps-047

For more information on AmSpirit Business Connections and its franchise opportunity program, contact Frank Agin at frankagin@amspirit.com or visit http://networkingrx.libsyn.com/ignorance-on-fire-eps-047

LinkedIn Active Use 2 of 4

LinkedIn Active Use 2 of 4

Being Active on LinkedIn is key. However, what if you feel woefully behind? “I haven’t done anything on LinkedIn and I’m connected to so few people. What’s the point of doing anything now?”

When others have tons of connections, activity and traction, it’s easy to have that “I will never catch up” feeling. Do not despair. There is a quick and easy way to “catch up” on LinkedIn.

The second active use of LinkedIn is to take advantage of groups. Social media is nothing more than a giant networking event. Imagine that within this continually-running and information rich event there are rooms off to the side, each filled with people who all have a common bond or interest. Some are involved in small business or a particular company. Others live near each other or went to the same college. Or maybe it’s just a similar interest, such as marketing, engineering or accounting.

For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and interested in new members. Find a few groups that interest you and join. Can’t find a group you want to be part of? Create your own! Here are a couple neat things about groups.

First, once you join, you are able to submit invitations to connect with people within the group. Normally on LinkedIn you can only do this with those you already know somehow. This is a great way to increase your connections if you are just getting started.

Second, once in a group, you are able to directly communicate with all group members, even if you’re not yet “connected”. Normally on LinkedIn you are only permitted to communicate with the people you are directly connected to. So, this is another way to expand your network and be seen by many people who may want to connect with you.

So, joining or starting groups and then interacting within them is a powerful active use of social media.

Social Media As Compared To Traditional Networking

Social Media As Compared To Traditional Networking

Everyone has been to a networking event … Business After-Hours, Open House or Tradeshow … A gathering of people with the ability to interact with each other. Do you know what? That is what social media is, nothing more than a networking event. It is just another networking event, EXCEPT for some important differences.

First, your average networking event might have a few hundred people all from a local area. Social media, however, boast having millions of people participating (and likely 100’s of thousands in your region) and they are scattered all over the world.

Second, most networking events operate on a particular day and time. If you happen to be busy during that day and time (say, Friday at 7:30 am), you are out of luck until the next event. With LinkedIn, however, this networking event is going 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. During the big game you can participate in the event while you watch TV. If you can’t sleep, you can come online to the event. Even on Thanksgiving Day (or any other major holiday) you can be part of this continuously operating networking event.

Finally, when you walk into a networking event and see new faces, you cannot tell who is who. The guy in the suit could be a corporate executive or someone in transition. You just don’t know. If you are looking to network with attorneys, you generally find them via introduction or by trial and error. With social media (especially LinkedIn, in this instance), you can find the people you are looking for quickly and you can know a ton about them before you start to converse.

So approach social media as if it were just another networking event, but know that it also has the wonderful advantages of being worldwide and immense, continuously operating and rich with searchable information.

Creating a Referral Machine 7 of 7

Creating A Referral Machine 7 of 7 

Congratulations! You’ve established relationships and empowered that network. Great! But remember there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Too often, people work hard to create a referral machine only to watch it break down because they erroneously assume that an empowered network will just keep kicking out referrals.

Think of it like pushing a car: You have to work really hard to get the car rolling. Once the car is rolling you only have to exert mild force to keep it moving. But don’t let it stop because then it is like starting all over.

Establishing relationships and empowering the network is the Herculean push to get things moving. The mild force to keep it all moving involves three things.

ASK: Continue to ask for referrals, including things your network might not see. Don’t get frustrated if they are not referring things that seem obvious to you. Remember, they don’t live in your world and don’t see it as you do. So ask!

  • Can you introduce me to…?
  • Could you connect me to speak at this event?
  • Would you keep your eyes open for…?

APPRECIATE: No matter what your network does for you, thank them. If a referral goes nowhere, thank them anyway. Why? The fact they are thinking of you is excuse enough to celebrate. Your referral machine is working!

Also, appreciation is a wonderful motivator. Dole it out and people will do whatever it takes to get more. Few people thank others. You will set yourself apart when you show your appreciation.

CLARIFY:  No matter how well you educate and empower, your network is going to get it wrong from time to time. They want to help you, but they are going to send you referrals that are, well, bad.

Don’t get frustrated. They want to help and they are trying. Reconnect with them and clarify your request. One small correction in how they perceive what a good referral for you is could spell the difference between continued bad referrals and a great new client.

I’m In A Conversation. Now What?

As wonderful as chatting with a connection at a networking event is, do not burn out the conversation. This is not to say that you need to use the event to get out handfuls of your business cards and collect handfuls in return. That is not productive either.

It just says that you should attempt to connect enough with the person so that you are both comfortable continuing the conversation another time. Perhaps that is at the next event. Perhaps that is over coffee the next week. Whatever the case, talk for 15-20 minutes, get their contact information and pledge to get back to them.

This will allow you the opportunity to meet and connect with other people. To this end, when you find a lull in the conversation, simply suggest to them:

“I would love to keep talking, but …

o “I don’t want to occupy your whole time …”
o “There are a couple people I need to connect with before the event is over;” or,
o “I promised myself that I would meet three new, great contacts today … you make one and now I need to find two others.”

“If you do not mind, however, I would like to reach out to you later this week (early next week) and arrange a time where we can continue this conversation.”

Initiating Contact At Networking Events

It is simply up to you to initiate contact. That is worth repeating, it is up to you to initiate contact. Alternatively stated, DO NOT wait (or expect) others to make contact with you. Making contact is 100% your obligation, if you want a productive experience.

There is no magic to initiating contact. It only involves three simple things.

1) Make meaningful eye contact with people, where you look at them and they look you back in the eye. There is nothing strange about this. It is completely human.

2) With eye contact established, smile. This is not a forced smile, but a genuine “it is good to see you” smile. Chances are, human nature will kick in and they will smile back.

3) With that eye contact and a smile, simply say, “hello.” They may say “hello” in return, or they may say nothing.

Whatever the case, it was your objective (as well as sole obligation) to initiate contact. You have done that. Congratulations!

This sounds simple and it is. Nevertheless, this may be a little out of your comfort zone. If it is, here is a great way to practice. Go anywhere there are people (for example, shopping) and simply naturally wander around making eye contact, smiling, and saying, “hello.” It may seem unnatural at first, but in time you will develop a level of comfort that you can utilize in a more professional setting.

Warning For Social Media Networking

Far too often, people figuratively chain themselves to their computer and clank away in LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter hoping to create business for themselves. While they may stumble onto some, it seldom reaches the level they hope for.

Know this… Social media (and especially LinkedIn) is not a sales machine… it is not an order-taking system…it is not an ATM. It is merely a tool that you can use to better network yourself … It is not a replacement for networking.

Think of it in terms of this analogy … We networked before we had phones. People worldwide and people in this country built vast and complex civilizations long before they had any sort of electronic telecommunications. They were able to network themselves … Word-of-mouth, couriers and carrier pigeons did the trick. Back in the day, people did business and associated with those they knew, they liked and they trusted.

When the telephone came along, it did not change the underlying aspects of networking. It just made it easier. But they still did business with those they knew, they liked and they trusted. The telephone was just a tool.

The same is true of social media (such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter). It is just a tool. It is not networking. It is just a tool to make it easier to get to know people, determine if we like them, and then ultimately trust them.

30-Second Commercials: Part 1 of 8

Essentially, networking is about you creating a series of relationships (also known as a network). The end game for you is to get the network to help you. To get this, three things need to happen … Your network needs to KNOW you … Your network needs to LIKE you … And, your network needs to TRUST you.

Now, in establishing this KNOW, LIKE & TRUST, those you hope to add to your network NEED (not just WANT, but NEED) to have a firm sense as to…

• WHO you are (name, business name, basic product/service) …

• WHAT you do (along with when you do it) …

• WHY they should do business with you or WHY they should refer you as opposed to other options

• And, HOW they can help you (Who are people you want to be referred to? … Who do you want to meet? … What information do you need?).

In a networking sense, the primary limitation to communicating all this (especially amongst people you are meeting for the first time) is simply ATTENTION SPAN.

In somewhere around 30 seconds, you need to effectively communicate all these things or lose (or at least risk losing) their minds to something (or someone) else. For more, see Part 2.

I’m In A Conversation. Now What?

As wonderful as chatting with a connection at a networking event is, do not burn out the conversation. This is not to say that you need to use the event to get out handfuls of your business cards and collect handfuls in return. That is not productive either.

It just says that you should attempt to connect enough with the person so that you are both comfortable continuing the conversation another time. Perhaps that is at the next event. Perhaps that is over coffee the next week. Whatever the case, talk for 15-20 minutes, get their contact information and pledge to get back to them.

This will allow you the opportunity to meet and connect with other people. To this end, when you find a lull in the conversation, simply suggest to them:

“I would love to keep talking, but …

… I don’t want to occupy your whole time …
… There are a couple people I need to connect with before the event is over; or,
… I promised myself that I would meet three new, great contacts today … you make one and now I need to find two others.

If you do not mind, however, I would like to reach out to you later this week (early next week) and arrange a time where we can continue this conversation.”

LinkedIn Active Use #4 of 4

The final active use of LinkedIn is taking advantage of the “Share An Update” feature, where you can report what you are doing, what’s on your mind or what you would like others to know.

Found on your home page of LinkedIn, this is an underutilized feature that can be used in one of three general ways.

• Mini Press Release: Imagine having a publicist. Someone who tracked your every move and reported it to the world like some Hollywood star. Well, with LinkedIn, you can. Using the Share An Update feature you can share on your profile the things you are doing. This can enlighten others on your activity (personally or professionally) … Who you know … What you are working on.

• Add Value: As we discussed earlier, adding value is important whether you are networking in a traditional manner or via LinkedIn. People simply want to associate with those that have something to offer – it is purely human nature. Using the Share An Update, you can provide value to your LinkedIn network by offering information, sharing insight or simply making alerts.

• Evoke Discussion: Finally, just like contributing content, you can use the Share An Update feature to gain information quickly or simply engage your network. This activity creates interaction and interaction generally leads to value. So think about engaging your online network by asking a question, soliciting feedback, or creating a forum for discussion.

H (Diagram 2)