Getting to Know You - Real Success Cannot Be Achieved Without One-on-One Meetings

Are you ready to make your networking efforts pay huge dividends?  There are many things you can and should do to ensure success, but none so important as setting time aside each week and meeting with individuals face-to-face, also known as having a one-on-one.  Individual meetings with people are so critical that we believe you cannot truly succeed without them.

When it is just you and another person meeting you will have the ability to really get to know each other.  You will have a chance to learn about each others personal life, goals, and dreams.  In learning more you will also discover things you have in common and you will naturally grow to like each other.  That is assuming you have carefully chosen those with whom you meet.

One-on-one meetings are where the networking plan you have created really pays off.  Since you have carefully considered the people you want to meet and you skillfully asked questions previously, you won’t be wasting your time when you meet discovering if you are a match.  You can get right into knowing each other better.

Occasionally you will have a one-on-one with someone that you thought would be a match but turns out not to be.  When this happens it is best to refer them to someone else and move on.  Be polite but honest.  The best thing for everyone is to have people in your network that truly belong.  Skillful questioning, careful listening, and clearly explaining your needs will clarify the relationship.  Both you and your meeting partner will quickly see if there is a good match or not.

Meet at a neutral location like a local Starbucks or other coffee house.  Meeting at a neutral location keeps the focus of the meeting on the two of you as equals and prevents the conversation from turning one-sided.  Neutral locations also provide ease of exit when a match isn’t felt. One-on-ones can be over a meal if you choose.  We suggest breakfast as the meal of choice.  It’s easy to focus on the food and restaurant when having lunch or dinner, but you want to focus on your meeting partner.  Breakfast also provides the lowest cost of entry and the shortest time.  One-on-ones should be short and to the point but long enough to become comfortable with each other.

You should bring what you believe will be a good lead or referral for the person you are meeting with.  As you engage in more one-on-ones you will become skilled at referring others on short notice.  You’ll hear what they do and quickly think of someone you just met or have known for quite a while that needs to know your meeting partner.  But and in the beginning it may take a bit more thought.  Having at least one potential lead or referral means you have done your homework and that you cared enough to come prepared.  It also puts into motion the law of reciprocity.  Simply stated, you have done something for them, now they feel obligated to do something for you.  All too often we leave meetings feeling like we have made a great connection and neither party takes the next step and gives a referral. Coming prepared puts the relationship into action.

One-on-one meetings are essential to success.  They are the building blocks of relationships that will result in more referrals and closed business.  People do business with people they know, like, and trust.  One-on-one meetings give you the opportunity to know, like, and trust each other.


The Moment of Truth: Being Worthy of Referrals - It's All About Follow Up

Something magical happens when you begin to attend networking events.  People begin to give you leads and referrals.  Many have been fortunate to have met someone who wanted to do business right away.  Others have met someone at a networking event that should be a part of their networking circle.  And still others have met that rare individual who just hears what they do and knows someone who needs their product or service.  It happens.  And when it does it is a beautiful thing.

Other times you have worked hard for the opportunity.  You have attended events, met people and delivered a great elevator pitch (Magical Networking Moment).  Through planning your networking and working your plan you have received leads and referrals.

Now comes the moment of truth.  What happens when you meet someone or when someone gives you a lead or referral?  What will you do with what you have been given? Most leads, referrals, and opportunities die.  Most people never follow up or follow through.  It's sad but true.  Nothing will shut referrals down faster than lack of action on your part.  The referral you have received will die.  Worse still, because you will be known as someone who doesn't follow up, you won't receive more referrals either.

The good news is you can stand out in most any crowd by being the exception.  Simply by following up puts you in an elite class.  Following up shows respect for the referral.  It shows respect for the person who gave you the referral and it shows respect for you, your company, and everyone's time.  And following up is easy.  You have tools at your disposal that make managing contacts a snap.  You must use them.

While it is the least effective, a simple email can get the follow up process going.  Be aware that email isn't what it used to be.  Most people get at least fifty emails a day, so your email may not receive priority.  Using email alone is better than most, but not enough to reach the most valuable prospects.  Email does have it's place in the follow up process.  It provides an easy way to connect and it provides a simple management tool for contact information.  Use email to make quick, consistent contact with people.

Incorporate snail mail options too.  Since we get more email today, many forget that regular mail is a powerful tool.  The use of letters, lumpy mail (mail with something inside that makes the envelope beg to be opened), and hand written cards and notes is powerful.  For those who simply cannot seem to get this done, programs like Send Out Cards can do this for you.  Regular mail is an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

One other tool often overlooked is the telephone.  Make use of the phone wisely.  When you call, treat the gatekeeper (if there is one) like you would want to be treated.  Engage them by using their name and by telling them who you are and why you are calling.  It is best to ask for an introductory call when you have been referred. This coupled with courtesy for the gatekeeper will usually ensure your call gets through.  And when leaving messages make them short and to the point.  Your name, your phone number, who suggested you call, your name and phone number again should suffice.  Don't try to sell them on calling you back or your product or service in a message.  The referral should result in a return call.

Having a plan and process that you put every referral through will ensure that you are known as someone who follows up.  Using email, regular mail, the telephone, and courtesy for the gatekeeper will show everyone that you are a professional and worthy of referrals.  Being worthy means more referrals and more business.  So make it happen, follow up.


What the Movers and Shakers Know That You Don't - Volunteering Does More Than Make You Feel Good

One of the best kept secrets of the movers and shakers is that volunteering is a powerful way to improve you business and your life.  There is nothing more powerful than a group of people pulling together for a common cause.  When you work side by side with another person in an effort you both care about, you will find that forces seen and unseen will work in your favor to bring you closer together.

Volunteering differs from taking a leadership role in that volunteers do the heavy lifting.  They function in an operational manner.  They do the planning, coordinating, and directing others.  These are the unsung heroes of the event that went off without a hitch, the issue that was tackled and defeated, and the community that was changed for the better.  Volunteers make our lives better and we couldn't live or function without them.

You can get started by simply offering to be a greeter at the reception table at the next event you attend.  Or you can offer to serve in a role at your local chamber of commerce, service club, or school.  There are more opportunities than one can count to volunteer and make a difference.

When choosing how to serve, consider the things that you are passionate about.  While serving your industry group will reap rewards in your business life, serving with other people who share your passion for a cause will bring you personal rewards and satisfaction.  And don't fail to recognize the opportunities you'll be given to expand your business with the people you will meet who will be interested in you since you share a common interest in a cause.

But don't be too anxious to do business.  You will have access to people that you could never get to through normal business channels.  When you serve with others who care about what you care about, you will be amazed at the different people you will easily meet and spend time with.  Volunteering gives you access to people you may otherwise never get close to and better still, it gives you the commonality that builds relationships.  Do not abuse this opportunity by trying to sell.

The best approach is to get to know the people you are volunteering with and let them get to know you.  Once they know you, they will like you, and your co-service will lead them to trust you.  You won't have to ask for the business, they will naturally bring the business to you.  You will be a trusted resource they will go to and lead others to when they find a need for your products or services.

Remember that you should volunteer to serve a cause or group you have a passion for and you will find that business will naturally happen.  In the process you will find personal fulfillment, new friends, and bigger business opportunities.  Friends do business together.


Be a Leader – Get Involved in the Operation

Leaders are missing in most every aspect of life.  There is a void of leadership that continues to weaken groups in all areas of our society, and networking groups are not immune.  We need those who possess skills and enthusiasm to keep the group on task, on time, on purpose, and on going.

As with all things in life, successful networking requires careful planning, consistent attendance, full participation, and careful results measurement.  But to truly soar you need to do more than just consistently attend events and participate.  By volunteering to take a leadership role you will set yourself apart from the masses.  Everyone values those who give of their time to ensure the success of the group.  Giving of your time in a purposeful way will yield great results.  You should seek out opportunities to serve where you can make the biggest impact for the group and for you.

Choose a leadership role that aligns with your unique set of skills.  Those who facilitate groups in their business lives should facilitate networking groups.  Bankers, financial planners, certified public accountants, and other financial professionals should volunteer to assist with management of the finances and financial reporting of the group.  Always seek opportunities to showcase your skills when seeking a leadership role.

Check your ego at the door.  While you may be the captain of your ship, leadership in a volunteer group requires a servant mentality.  To lead is to serve others.  Bring all your talent and skills to be sure, but resist the temptation to be overbearing simply because you are the expert.  Remember that others are serving as well.  The last thing any group needs is a dictator.  Be empathetic.

Perhaps the best thing about being a leader in any group is that you will be considered a leader in all walks of life.  People naturally assume that you are a mover and shaker when you are the head of an organization and they will ask you to lead in others.  This gives you access to the heads of other organizations.  They now represent your peer group.

Become known as a leader and you will be amazed at the level of people you meet and how many of them will want to know you.


Consistent Action in a Purposeful Manner is the Key to Networking Success

While most people don't want to hear it, the key to success in networking is consistency.  Nothing will replace consistent action in a purposeful manner.  You must plan your networking success and work your plan consistently, making adjustments as you go to ensure you are getting the most for your efforts.

Most of us have heard of someone who came to his or her first networking event and met a great prospect that became a client.  Many have even heard of someone who has done business at a networking event.  Perhaps you have had the good fortune of meeting someone who was in need of your product or service and you closed the business at the event.  It does happen.

But patience and perseverance are required in networking as in most every other endeavor in life.  Consistency is the key to success.  Joining a health club doesn't make you healthy.  Once you join you have a greater likelihood of going, and once you go you have a greater likelihood of using the equipment.  Using the equipment doesn't ensure health either.  It is the purposeful use of the equipment in the proper fashion and proportion consistently that ensures improved health.

Networking is very similar.  Joining a group increases the likelihood that you will attend a meeting or event.  Attending increases the likelihood that you will actually engage in a conversation with another attendee.  Engaging in conversation increases the chances that you will meet someone who could use your product or service.  But the purposeful planning of which meetings and events to attend and whom you wish to meet, coupled with the successful execution of that plan, will ensure that you are successful in networking and in your business endeavor.

The old saying, "who you are speaks so loudly I can't hear what you are saying" applies in networking.  While your appearance plays an important role,  how often you appear at events is critical.  People will begin to know, like, and trust you when they see you more often.  This increases the odds that they will remember you when they meet someone who needs what you sell.

Therefore, you should plan out your networking for the next six weeks and stick to it.  Measure your success at each event and determine if the right connections are attending the same events you are.  Be honest with yourself.  How well did you connect?  How much did you give each event?  What impacted your results?

Be sure to visit each event or group more than once before you decide to fully engage or eliminate it from your plan.  Then be decisive.  Choosing a few events or groups to fully engage in each month will bring far better results than taking a shotgun approach.  You'll begin to see the same people and they will see you as reliable.  Then they will open up their contact list to you.  This is when networking becomes powerful.  Remember, meeting people and doing business with them individually is great, but the real power comes when you gain access to their contacts and referrals.

Networking success requires a plan and that plan requires consistently attending events and meetings and measuring your success.  When you fully engage and consistently attend you will find better relationships, better use of your time, more referrals, and greater success.  Be consistent.