The Proper Networking Mindset

It is vital that you understand three recurring networking themes:

• The Golden Rule of Networkingthink positively slogan on blackboard
• Know, Like and Trust
• Every Contact Has Opportunity

Beyond these, however, you also need to have the correct networking mindset, as attitude is everything:

Believe It Works … Whether you believe networking will work or you don’t, you are going to be right. If you believe in it, you will conduct yourself with confidence and that will draw people to you. If you are skeptical of the activity or its potential, that will serve to repel people from you. Thus, BELIEVE!

You Network Well … Remember: Everything you do is networking… Everything you have ever achieved has involved networking … Everywhere you go is networking … Everyone you interact with involves networking. KNOW THIS … You are much better at networking than you likely give yourself credit.

Be Of The Right Mind … Not every day is going to be a good day. As such, if you are not in the right frame of mind (and cannot get there), save your networking for another day … stay home … off the phone … away from e-mail.

In life, attitude is everything. The same is true in networking. Before you network, get the right attitude.

Networking: Three Recurring (and vital) Themes

B (Three Fingers)Networking is nothing new. In fact, it has been studied for years. As such, there are recurring themes within it. If you understand these three concepts, you will be ahead of the vast majority of the working population.

The Golden Rule of Networking… This rule states that effective networking is about giving to others first (with no expectation of any return) and simply hoping that things will come back to you. Your entire networking existence should be about finding ways to help or give to others … referrals, businesses, contacts, information, encouragement, your time … give, give, give. Trust me, it will come back to you.

The Quintessential Elements Of Networking Relationships… All things being equal, we do business with people we Know, Like, and Trust. In fact, all things being unequal, we still do things with those we Know, Like, and Trust. So everything you do involving others needs to center on you getting to KNOW them (and not necessarily them you) … you being perceived as LIKABLE to them … and, you conducting yourself so they feel they can TRUST you.

Every Contact Has Opportunity … We are all a little guilty of this: Dismissing someone as not being of consequence to us. Know this, however, while everyone may not be your next employer or key business contact, everyone is somehow connected to one (directly or indirectly). Thus, treat everyone as if they have that potential and eventually good things will follow.

Understand (and really think about) these themes. They are important, as they serve the foundation upon which all effective networking activity is built.

Social Media Success

computerThe three most important steps to success on social media. There is no magic. There are no secret formulas or short cuts. The key is to follow the three most important steps

1) Get Started (or expand your usage to be more effective)

2) Make time to take a little action each day

3) Commit to keeping after it.

Admittedly, when it comes to social media there is a lot there and much to master and learn. There is nothing to say, however, that you need to climb the learning curve in a weekday, month or even a year. Even the most proficient users of social media find that they are continually learning new things.

Besides, no one is judging you on your proficiency using social media. They are only judging you on the value you bring to the network.

LinkedIn Active Use: 3 of 4

V (Soup)The third active use of LinkedIn is to add-value by contributing content. Think for a moment as to how you might conduct yourself at a traditional networking event. You stand around talking with people. You start discussions and you contribute to discussions that others have started. You answer questions that others ask and you ask questions that you look for others to answer. LinkedIn provides this same opportunity for its users.

If you go into any of the groups you have joined, you will see that there are usually numerous discussion going on. Jump in and add value.

This does NOT mean pitch yourself or product. It means share an opinion or insight. Offer a solution to a problem. Share your experience as it relates to the discussion.

In networking (whether traditional networking or online), adding value in this manner is critical to keeping you on the minds of others. People want to associate with those that add value. As they cannot help knowing, liking and trusting you.

LinkedIn Active Use: 2 of 4

U (Diagram 3)Being Active on LinkedIn is key. From time to time, however, people are reluctant to do anything on social media simply because they feel woefully behind. They say or think, “I have not done anything on LinkedIn and so I am connected to so few people. What is the point of doing anything now?”

Embarking on LinkedIn can seem daunting, especially when you see what others have achieved in terms of connections, activity and traction. It is easy to have that “I will never catch up” feeling.

Do not despair. There is a quick and easy way of becoming networked on LinkedIn. The second active use of LinkedIn is to take advantage of groups.

Again, social media is nothing more than a giant networking event. Imagine that within this immense, continually-running and information rich event, there are rooms off to the side. Within these rooms are people who all have a common bond or interest.

For some, it is the fact that they are all involved in small business or a particular company. For others, it is based on where they live or went to college. And for others it is just a general interest, such as marketing, engineering or accounting.

For the most part, these groups are highly welcoming and continually interested in new members. So find a group or groups that interest you and sign in. And if you cannot find a group that you would like to be part of, LinkedIn allows you to create a group and start to grow it.

Here are a couple neat things about groups.

First, normally on LinkedIn, you can only invite to connect those that you already know somehow, some way. So if you are just getting started and only have a few (if any) connections, you might feel as if there is no way (or no one to turn to) to get additional connections. Once you are admitted to a group you are able to invite to connect people who are within the group. So get into a group and seek out interesting people to connect with.

Second, normally on LinkedIn you are only permitted to communicate with the people you are directly connected to. So, again, if you have few connections, you have few people to communicate with. Once in a group, however, you are able to directly communicate with all the people within that group.

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

LinkedIn Active Use: 1 of 4

If you went to a networking event, grabbed a chair and sat along the wall, what would you expect to gain from the experience? A: NOTHING!!! To make the event work for We have a dealyou, you need to get out and interact with people. LinkedIn is much the same. You can expect nothing from it, unless you put something into it. You need to make active use of it. There are five basic active uses of LinkedIn. The first is the professional profile.

Just like when you head to the networking event, you need to not only be visible, but you need to put your best foot forward. On LinkedIn, you have the ability to create a profile for yourself. This is your face in the crowd at this online networking event. Be sure to take the time to present yourself well.

Note that this essentially is an electronic resume or brochure for you

  • Don’t be shy and add a picture
  • Provide a short statement of not just your title, but the value you offer
  • Give a 30-Second Commercial-like overview of what you are about
  • List your work experience (listing anything that is reasonably relevant)
  • Provide an overview of your education (as this can serve as means for lending credibility for you as well as be a point of common experience or affiliation with others)
  • Seek some recommendations on the work you have done for and with others
  • List impressive achievements and other experiences that might not come through in your work history (such as professional designations, awards and recognition).

The great thing about this profile is that there is no limit to how often you can revise it. So feel free to keep it up to date with whatever you are doing, producing or reading. Allow people to know as much as reasonably possible about you.

Creating a Referral Machine: 7 of 7

keep the gearsYou have established relationships and you have empowered that network. Great! Know this, however, there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Far too often, people work hard to create a referral machine only to watch it “peter out” or break down altogether because they erroneously assume that an empowered network will just keep kicking out referrals.

Think of creating a referral machine like pushing a car: You have to work really hard to get the car rolling. Once the car is rolling you do not have to exert much force to keep it moving, but it still takes mild effort (and you dare not let it come to a stop, because then it is like starting over).

With creating a referral machine, the 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 ways you can help your network. Yes, continue to ask for referrals, but also ask for things that your network might not see. From time to time, someone will become frustrated with their network because it is not referring something that seems obvious to them. Remember those who make up your referral machine do not live in your world. They do not always see it the way you do. Do not be afraid to ask.

  • “Can you introduce me to this person?”
  • “Could you get me an opportunity to speak at this event?”
  • “Would you keep your eye open for this?”

Do not be afraid that your network will be annoyed. Remember, if you do it right they know you, like you, and trust you.

Appreciate … Second, no matter what your network does for you, thank them. If they send you a referral or do anything of value, fall all over yourself thanking them. Celebrate your joy with them.

If a referral goes nowhere, fall all over yourself thanking them. Why? First, the glass is always half full. The fact they are thinking of you is an excuse enough to celebrate. Your referral machine is working!

Second, appreciation is a wonderful motivator. You dole it out and people want more. And they will do what is necessary to get more. Know this, few people “thank” others. Therefore you will really set yourself apart when you show appreciation towards others.

Clarify … Finally, 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.

So what? Don’t get frustrated. Remember, the glass is half full. They want to help and they are trying. Take the opportunity to reconnect with them and clarify. One small correction in how they are perceiving what is a good referral for you could spell the difference between continued bad referrals and a great new client.

Creating a Referral Machine: 6 of 7

keep the gearsIf you do a spectacular job educating your network on recognizing referrals, great. That, however, is not enough. You need to empower them with the ability to talk to prospective clients about what it is you do.

For example, if they recognize that the displaced executive is a potential client to refer to you, great. Encourage them to strike up a conversation with the person (and they will if they know, like and trust you). And transition into a discussion about franchising. Here is an example:

“I am sorry you are in transition. What is your next move? Have you considered becoming your own boss? I understand that franchising is almost a fool-proof means of successfully being in business. I know a great franchise broker … there is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”

In addition to general conversation, empower your referral machine with non-technical buzz words and catch phrases about your industry (as well as what they mean) … Franchise Fee … Ongoing Royalties … FDD … Earnings Claim … Discovery Day. Your network should know enough to talk about what you do but not enough to do it.

Finally, encourage your network to hook you into the situation. In short, encourage the person to talk about you in a connecting sense. Returning to the example from before “I know a great franchise broker. There is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisers pay his fees.”

Creating a Referral Machine: 5 of 7

keep the gearsEstablishing relationships is an important first step. In so doing, you have built a network of people who are really behind you. Again, they know, like and trust you. This alone does not create a referral machine, however. Before your network can refer you, they need to be empowered. Empowered to recognize opportunities for you as well as empowered to talk or communicate about you.

People within your network do not magically know how to refer you. First, they need to know who to refer you to and they need to know when to refer you. To make this happen, it is entirely up to you to empower them to recognize these opportunities.

Consider franchise brokerage (though this applies to any business or profession). Certainly if someone comes out and says, “I am looking to buy a
franchise”, your network should know to think of and refer you. But what about all the times that someone could be a great client but does not say they are looking to buy a franchise (or they do not even know that franchise ownership is an option).

EXAMPLES:

  • What about the person whose spouse is looking to have their own business?
  • What about the displaced executive who might not be interested in getting back into the grind?
  • What about the mid-level manager that wants a way out of the grind?

If you want to create a referral machine, it is your job to paint a picture in the minds of your network as to who is a good referral candidate and what is a good situation. Here are three great ways to do this.

  1. Develop a series of short 30-second commercials that concisely convey what you are looking for and what you do. Again, develop a series, so that you have a varied message. Write these out and practice them, then use them as often as possible. For help on this find the short series on 30-second commercials.
  2. Even if you have a great 30-second commercial, people are not going to fully remember what you have to say. To overcome this, develop (again) a series of short summaries outlining what you are looking for. Make these short and simple (so simple that a 5th grader could understand them) and either have them professionally done or neatly type and lay them out with a computer. Then hand and mail (and e-mail) these out consistently.
  3. If you give people the basic facts, they might politely listen. But if you weave these facts within a compelling story, an example or analogy, they will be enthralled by what you have to say. If you have experiences, share them. If you do not have experiences, then talk to someone who does and borrow theirs. If you have neither experience nor access to someone who does, make it up. In this situation, it is not stealing to make someone else’s experiences your own. It is not lying to craft a story that has not occurred. You are doing this to paint a picture of what a good referral looks like.

In Part 6, we will address empowering your referral machine.

Creating a Referral Machine: 4 of 7

keep the gearsOkay, there are lots of potential people with whom to establish a relationship. What about the “HOW”? How can you make this happen?

Yes, there are lots of people. That is generally not the problem. That is seldom people’s shortcoming in creating a referral machine. It is the “how” that trips people up.

In establishing relationships, there are three main categories of activities you need to consider making part of your personal regimen. (1) Giving or adding values to others; (2) Ensuring that you become involved; and (3) Making sure that you are dependable or reliable in what you say and do.

First, when people hear the term “GIVING TO OTHERS”, they tend to conjure up images of dragging out their wallets. That is not the case at all. There are lots of things you can do in giving or adding value to others.

  • Doing business with others.
  • Sending them referrals.
  • Providing them with information.
  • Spurring them on.
  • Introducing them to others.

Each of these things adds value to others. The key part of all of this, however, is that when you add value to others, they cannot help but feel they know you, like you, trust you. And somehow, they are quietly compelled to return the deed at some point in time.

Second, another means of establishing relationships, is getting involved with your community.

Trust this, no matter where you live, there are business groups, charities and civic initiatives that could use your time, talent and energy. When you get involved in your community, it raises your level of exposure and it demonstrates your commitment. With these things, people cannot help but feel they know you, like you and trust you, which is exactly what you need to start establishing relationships and create a referral machine.

Finally, adding value and getting involved are great for establishing relationships. You, however, will undermine the entire process, if you are not reliable. With even an innocent infraction of unreliability, you can kill your chances of getting referrals. Be reliable … be on time … do what you say… follow-up, as you promise. And if for some reason you are unable to do these things, alert the person who might be relying on you
as soon as possible.

This may all seem like common sense. It is. It is, however not common practice. It has tripped up even those with the best of intentions. Guard against this.

Nevertheless, once you have these relationships established, you can start to put your referral machine to work. That is the subject of Part 5.