Monday, December 26, 2011

Have You Tried Networking in a Vacuum?

That would be tough, wouldn’t it? You would be a community of one. Having no one to refer to and not knowing anyone who provides value beyond your individual capability would leave you exceptionally limited.

Networking success is based on interdependency between three specific individuals: a person with a PROBLEM, a person with a SOLUTION, and a person who CONNECTS the two. Understanding the role of these three networking stakeholders is fundamental to building value. It is important to know that at any moment, an individual can play each of these roles.

Let’s meet each of these stakeholders:

Person with the PROBLEM...three criteria
  • they have a significant need
  • they know (have admitted) they have this need
  • they are open to you making a connection to help them solve this need

Person with a SOLUTION...three criteria

  • they are the right/best resource for the PROBLEM
  • they highly value the opportunity to help the person with the PROBLEM
  • they value the relationship with the CONNECTOR and follow up diligently

Person who makes the CONNECTION...three criteria
  • they have confirmed that the person with the PROBLEM wants help
  • they select the best SOLUTION provider to refer
  • they are PROBLEM centered and only care about helping their friend/associate solve their PROBLEM - they are not concerned about helping the SOLUTION provider get business

You will recall last week we strongly suggested that it is important for each networker to build a bullpen of resources that can help solve the most high value challenges of our clients and associates. In doing so it important that we have a depth of resources in each discipline to make connections that are most appropriate for the person with the PROBLEM.

Next week: The three big challenges in networking.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Can You Know too Many Printers?

Several years ago, when I was running a networking group, a prospective member told me that regrettably he couldn’t join our group because he was concerned about knowing too many printers. This particular individual was the member of a group that required its members to pass all business leads to group members. The only time that they could pass a lead outside of the group would be if the discipline didn’t exist in the group.

This is a theme that I have heard repeat itself many times since. Sometimes it is for similar reasons to the story above and other times it has to do with an individual wanting to pass potential business to “friends” and having to many “friends” from one discipline might be hard to reconcile.

Saying you know too many printers is like saying you know too many brain surgeons. If you have a client or someone you value who has a brain tumor, do you want to know just one brain surgeon? What kind of resource would this make you? 
What would happen if you knew a few good brain surgeons well and your network could connect you to more?

Next week: Understanding the 3-stakeholders in networking.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Defining Your Destination

As we discussed last week, knowing who you want to meet by name or discipline is essential if you want to be effective at networking events.

Reminder: The goal of going to events is to figure out who to meet with one-on-one to for networking purposes not to prospect.

The best circumstance is to know who you want to meet by name before you walk into the networking event. To do this, you must first know:

  1. Who is expected to be in the room?
    • What type of group is it?
    • Who is the audience?
  2. What needs you have?
    • Are you looking to fill a key position?
    • Is a client of yours looking for an important resource?
    • Are you looking to expand your pool of centers of influence?
  3. Who you want to meet by discipline?
    • Which disciplines will be good referral sources for the needs that you have?
    • Is there someone at the event who will be able to introduce you to people from these disciplines?
If you have time and a good relationship with the host organization the next step is to:

  1. Get a list of the projected attendees 24-48 hours before the event
  2. With your target disciplines in mind, identify the individuals who you want to meet
  3. Call each target individual before the event to confirm their attendance and let them know that you are hoping to meet them - only about 70% of the people who sign-up for events show-up - calling the people who you want to meet ahead of time to assure their attendance will not only help you meet them at the event, but it will give you a ready made reason to follow-up with them should they no show-up

Even if you’re not able to get the projected attendee list before the event the knowledge of what disciplines you would like to meet at this specific event will allow you to:

  1. Kibitz with the host or event facilitators at the door to get introductions to the people who you want to meet
  2. Connect through other attendees to the people who you want to meet
  3. Review the name tags on the way into the event to find some people representing the disciplines that you want to meet, note the names, and make sure that you connect with them
Good networking is about making efficient and valuable connections. Knowing your destination at events will help you take the straightest line between where you are and building relationships with the key people who you need to meet.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Do You Know Your Destination?

Do you ever get into your car with out knowing where you’re going to get out? When I ask that question in a networking workshop the most common response is “very rarely.” Then why is it that you go into a networking event without a destination?
Serendipity can happen, but expecting it is generally not a very good business plan. Imagine depending on winning the lottery to pay your bills. It might be a long cold winter indeed.
So what is an effective destination at a networking event? Is it the buffet, the bar, your friends, or the comfy seating? The goal is to establish your destination for each event before you enter the room. Having a destination in networking is accomplished by knowing whom you intend to meet by name or by discipline.
Next week we’ll get into the specifics of defining your destination for each event.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Value of Becoming a Hub

The most valuable role in networking is that of the hub. You have probably met several hubs or maybe you are one yourself. Hubs are at the center of their community and as such seem to know everybody and how they relate. Hubs are very curious by nature and they invest time getting to know people. Hubs are trustworthy and never compromise relationships or confidential information. Hubs extend themselves time and time again to help people solve problems by connecting them with just in time knowledge and relationships.
In a similar way to how transportation, telecommunications and information technology are networked by a hub and spoke architecture, individuals as hubs connect their community.

When you have invested your time to become a hub you have mission critical knowledge and relationships when you need them. You are in the know and can make better decisions because of your access to information. You can get to where you intend quicker and easier because of the connections you have.

More important, you can become more valuable to your clients and colleagues by being their best source of knowledge and relationships. Utilizing your network to serve those who are important to you is truly what being a hub is all about. Think of your family doctor, your general practitioner. They listen, they test, they diagnose and when appropriate they get you to the right specialist.

You will be a recognized leader in your community when you become a hub. People will want your opinion. They will want your assistance. They will refer their colleagues to you. You will be able to help people in a way that you never have a trusted advisor.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

How is Networking Like a High School Dance?

Do you remember going to high school dances? At the beginning, the girls were on one side of the room and the boys were on the other. Each side observing the other and no one looking totally comfortable. Inevitably one courageous soul walks across the room and invites someone to dance and the dominoes begin to fall. The dance floor fills slowly, but not everyone participates. Some cling to their friends on the sidelines while attempting to look cool. The result is a scrum of activity in the middle of the floor and a variety of observers around the perimeter.

Effective networking is about getting in the scrum, meeting new people and making connections. If you need to warm up, stay in the perimeter for a few minutes and connect to some folks who aren’t yet ready to go to the center. As soon as you are ready though move to the center. Like in high school, the people in the center are the leaders. They interact more and as a consequence get to know each other more intimately. Like in high school, your connection to the community will be driven by the quality and quantity of intimate relationships that you maintain. Let's dance!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Expand Your Comfort Zone

As you enter the room of networkers, you make a choice. Do you opt to go straight to your co-workers, friends, and business associates where you spend the event talking to people that you know? Or do you go the opposite direction and engage people that you don’t know?

Since the primary networking purpose of attending events is to figure out who you should meet with one-on-one, then getting out of your comfort zone and connecting with people that you don’t know makes the most sense.

While this seems very logical, it is rarely the path of most would be networkers. At the next event you attend look around and you will observe big clumps of people who already know each other. You’ll most likely see herds of people from the same company. They cling to each other because they have determined no personal objective or direction and the herd represents safety.

Spending an event talking to people that you know wastes an enormous amount of potential energy. These are people that you have access to. They’ll take your call. You know what type of resource they are and how you would connect them given the opportunity. You have attended an event, invested significant time, and gained no leverage.

When you leave the herd you will make new connections that will surprise and delight you. As you do this more and more you will find yourself taking the middle seat on airplanes and sitting at tables of all new acquaintances at events. Each new person that you get to know expands your base of knowledge and relationships...your sphere of influence.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Where Do You Sit?

The floor layout at each event is somewhat different. Are you going to be sitting at tables or theater style? Where are my friends sitting? Is there an aisle seat so that my legs will be comfortable? Maybe I should take a seat in back, just in case I want to leave early. I should grab a seat quickly, so I can sit where there is a good view. My company has a table at the event, maybe I should sit there. NOT...

If your purpose is to network, the rule is simple...SIT NEXT TO PEOPLE YOU DON’T KNOW.

If you came to the event with people you know or you know some of the participants, separate from can connect with them later. Networking is first about expanding your sphere of influence...the number of people you know. Company tables are great, but those seats should be occupied by your customers and the big wigs who are entertaining them.

One simple strategy is to not sit until the seating is somewhat full and then choose a seat in the middle of a densely populated area. Ideally you have someone you don’t know to your right, left, in front of you, and behind you.

Once you’re seated, introduce yourself around, find out who you’re sitting next to, and exchange cards. Learn as much as you can about the people that you are sitting with.

The purpose of attending events is to identify people who you should meet with one-on-one. The more people that you sit next to the greater the possibility.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

What Should I Wear?

To some this will seem like a benign topic, but when you consider that according to most studies more than 60% of communication is non-verbal, personal appearance counts.

So we might ask, what will appeal most to the people that I am looking to attract? How will other people be dressed? What are my standards? Is there a dress code for the event?

Are we over thinking this? Yeah, probably. Here's the rule. Dress how you want to be perceived.

If you want an absolutely professional appearance then your best business suit and well polished shoes are appropriate. Some people want to be viewed more approachable. If this is the case, then a slightly more casual ensemble should be your plan. Logo wear might be a standard way to dress in your profession and certainly this can work very well.

The goal of your appearance should be to invite conversation from the people that you are looking to connect to. You might find additional success wearing distinctive or colorful clothes. Ultimately, your appearance when networking should be congruent with how you want to be perceived.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Connecting with Your Centers of Influence

  • A center of influence is someone who can help you by virtue of who or what they know 
  • Our best referrals come from current or former customers
  • We cause the most customer referrals, passionate advocacy, when we have a deep bullpen of resources whose knowledge and relationships help us solve customer challenges

As we learned last week, the first place to focus, when you are trying to understand who your centers of influence are, is to learn who your best customer relies on. Who are your best customers most valued strategic relationships? They could be consultants, vendors, suppliers, advisors, etc... The supposition is that these individuals:
  • Are qualified because our best customers has faith in them 
  • Have relationships with other companies that look like our best customer
The goal then is to get to know these individuals well primarily because they are likely great service providers (resources) for our clients and future clients and secondarily because they likely have knowledge and relationships that are potentially valuable for us. When you call for the meeting, let them know that you have customers that may need their service and you would like to meet to learn more about what they do. Ideally, you’ll meet at their place of business…you’ll learn much more. The next meeting can be at your shop.

When you meet, learn about the individuals background, what they’re doing now, and who is a good connection for them. The more you learn the better. You want to know if this is someone who you would refer to your best customer. Would they make you look good?

Whether in this meeting or another, you want to agree how they will handle a referral from you. You might just ask, "If I were to call you with a referral, how would it be handled?" If they say anything other than "right away, with great care." you will want to have an open conversation about your expectation and if they can meet it. When and if you call them with a referral, it is ok and sometimes advisable to ask them to follow up with you after they have spoken with your client.

Your first priority with centers of influence is to solve customer problems. Having a deep bullpen of resources will allow you to do it best. You may, someday, get a referral from someone you've referred. Celebrate it. Don't expect it or this fragile eco-system dies. When we solve problems with our customers best interest in mind, we always win.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Determining Your Centers of Influence , part II

Reminder...a center of influence is someone who can help us by virtue of who or what they know.

When applying the center of influence concept to business building the first place to focus is to develop a base of centers of influence that will help you better serve your customers. Not only will this help you provide better service thereby creating more referrals from your customers, but it will also help you develop relationships with a cadre of non-competing industry professionals who will help you increase the depth and breadth of your connection to valuable knowledge and relationships.

Follow these steps to determine the shortest path to growing your greatest number of high value connections. 
Two steps to Identify your centers of influence for business building:
  • Identify your best customer - You can define best customer however you want. Maybe it is the customer that does the most business with you. Maybe it is the customer who provides you with the highest margin business. Maybe it is the customer that refers you the most business. However you define best customer, it is critical that you realize that you have only one best and that you identify them by name. You should be able to complete this best customer is      XYZ Company     .

    Best customer test - Think for a moment about your average customer. Can you think of the value that your average customer brings to you as compared to your best customer? Imagine that you have a one time opportunity, in this moment, to receive either 100 more of your average customer or 5 more of you best customer. Which would you choose? Approximately 95% of the people who do this exercise find that they would take 5 best customers over 100 average customers. If your answer is different double check that you have truly identified your best customer.

    Paradigm shift - If you choose to receive 5 more of your best customers, then why are you networking to your average customer? By taking 5 more or your best customer you have just said that your best customers are at least 20 times more productive than your average customer...
  • Identify the resources that serve your best customer - Do you know who your best customer relies on? Who are your best customers most important suppliers, vendors, or counselors? What professionals have helped your best customer get where they are?

    Having trouble with this? - If you don’t have this level of intimacy with your best customer are you vulnerable? You certainly are...a smart competitor will unseat you very quickly by learning this information. But this is not a customer retention exercise.

    So how do I find out who my best customer relies on? -  Er...Ask your customer. This is not a direct question. Learning who your best customer relies is a bi-product of being a student of your best customer and it is knowledge that is built over time. Some simple questions that will begin you on this journey include: Looking Forward - “Can you tell me about some your goals in the coming year?, Why are they important?, Are there specific internal or external resources that you will rely on to help you accomplish these goals?” Looking Backward - “Can you tell me about your company growth over the last 5-years?, What have you learned that you’ll apply to your objectives for the next 5-years?, Are there specific resources/vendors that you have found to be most valuable?”
Hopefully, you have been able to identify a path to discovering your centers of influence. Having gone through this exercise, you can see that this is a discovery process that never ends. Your understanding of who your centers of influence are is a journey. A continuous application of these two steps will allow you to focus and improve your networking to a level you never thought possible.
Next week we will discuss what to do once we begin learning who our best customer relies on.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Determining Your Centers of Influence , part I

Ever ask someone, “Who are your centers of influence?” I am always amazed at the answer when I do. Ninety-nine percent respond by describing their average customer. This identifies a significant disconnect between the leverage that is possible in networking and the lack of focus that most people have in their efforts.

If you don't know your centers of influence, you can't focus your effort. If you can't focus your effort, you can't articulate who your centers of influence are. If you can't articulate who your centers of influence are, you can't empower others to help you connect to more centers of influence.

So what’s a center of influence and why is it critical that we know as many as we can? Simply put, a center of influence is someone who can help us by virtue of who or what they know. Centers of influence are the source of just-in-time knowledge and relationships. Centers of influence can help us in any facet of our life.

If some one in your family becomes seriously ill, the right center of influence can help you find the best doctor. When your car breaks down, you need a center of influence who knows the best mechanic. When you want a night out on the town, it’s opportunistic to have a center of influence who knows a great babysitter who’s available when you need them.

Centers of influence are not customers. They are people with knowledge and relationships that will save you time and investment by helping you make meaningful connections. Centers of influence help you find short-cuts between where you are and where you want to go.

Next week we’ll reveal a simple exercise to help you identify your centers of influence for business development.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

How are Networkers Like Onions?

Have you ever chosen not to speak with someone at an event? In some form, we have all done this. Maybe you evaluated their appearance, how accessible they seemed, saw the company name on their name badge, or heard them speak in a less sophisticated way and judged that getting to know them would be of little value. Premature discrimination is one of the largest inhibitors to successful networking.

Let's reverse the perspective...think about your appearance at the last networking event that you attended. You were most likely well dressed, outgoing and well spoken, but take the simple example of your name badge. It has a company name on it. Whether it is your company or the name represents your current employer, is the company name on your name badge the sum total of your professional experience and background. Does the name of the company work for represent all of the contacts that you have and all of the communities that you are connected too? Would someone be short changing them self by assuming your depth of knowledge does not extend past this experience? Think of the diversity of knowledge and relationships that you possess which goes far beyond what you are doing now.

Like onions each of us has layers. Every person that each of us walks by at a networking event has incredible value, it's just not obvious. Take a risk. Extend your hand to people because they look and sound different. Learn about them. You’ll be amazed at the wonderful stories that you will hear and the powerful connections that you will make.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Which Professions Are Best at Networking?

By understanding which professions really practice effective networking we can begin modeling our own activities into a set of best practices. In last weeks post we discussed how current and former customers are generally our best source of referral. Therefore the first place to focus our networking effort is to build a pool of resources that will help us better serve our customers - let’s call it customer centered networking. So who does this best?

Well I wouldn't be very true to the title of this blog if I did put
doctors on the top of the list. I've interviewed hundreds of doctors to learn about their networking practices. Here are two unique attributes of why doctors are such good networkers:
  • They specialize - Specialization allows doctors to be very specific about what they do and don’t do thereby empowering others to easily understand each doctor’s unique expertise. You would never see a dermatologist try to do the work of a pediatrician. This is significantly different than other professions where a sense of scarcity causes the practitioners to promote themselves, accountant, architect, consultant, etc. Have you ever heard someone at a networking event say that “everyone” is a prospect? This is not only naive, but it also disempowers the listener to make good connections. How can you possibly help someone make good connections to “everyone?” Specialists will always have and easier time networking than generalists. Doctors differentiate themselves and empower their network in a way that very few other professionals do.
  • They are customer centered...I mean really customer centered - When you ask a doctor why they refer there is no confusion. Their only focus is to make the patience well. They refer the patient to the best resource they know regardless of their relationship with the resource. Other professionals are often compelled to refer based on loyalty to the service provider. They want to help a “friend” get business. This is not the case with doctors. Doctors are customer centered and have proven that healthy and happy patients make the best referral sources.

High performing Realtors are also great networkers. One of the most amazing things about Realtors is that they all have the same inventory. In most communities, it doesn’t matter which real estate office you go in, you can select from the same properties. So how do the high performing Realtors differentiate themselves and become a customer centered? They have a great network. They are hubs of knowledge and relationships in their community.

When a client has an accepted offer on a new home, high performing Realtors have a ready bullpen of resources that will help their client successfully acquire the property. Whether the client needs a mortgage broker, home inspector, or contractor the high performing Realtor can help.

The best Realtors have a variety of resources in each discipline so that no matter what the client needs they have the right referral. Whether the client has impeccable credit or is credit challenged the high performing Realtor refers the mortgage broker who best fits the customer need. If a high performing Realtor doesn't readily know a resource for a specific problem they leverage their network to uncover the best provider for the client.

A high performing Realtors network goes far beyond resources related to home sales and service, they know their community. If their client has children, the best Realtors can make introductions to the best daycare service and if the client has a particular hobby the Realtor can connect them to local opportunities to enjoy their hobby.

Customer centered networking is the key differentiator that puts doctors and high performing Realtors at the top of the networking food chain. By putting their patient and clients success above all other priorities, doctors and the best Realtors are regularly and passionately advocated by their customers.


  • Specialists win in networking. None of us serves everyone. Make it easy for those you network with to understand what you do and who you do it for. Remember, the Anesthesiologist does not do surgery.
  • Build a bullpen of resources to solve your customer’s challenges. Not only will you serve your clients better by connecting them to just in time knowledge and relationships, but you’ll also make networking a lot more fun. When you go to events, you’ll no longer focus on talking about you. You’ll focus on meeting and learning about people who would be good resources for your clients. Make sure that you get together with them after in their place of business. See their work. Stay in touch. Do this for 12 months. You’ll be amazed at the results!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Where Do Your Best Referrals Come From?

Do they come from friends and family, professional contacts, other sales people, current and former customers, online acquaintances, or some other source? I’ve asked thousands of professionals that exact question and at least 95% respond that their best referrals by far come from their current and former customers.
If our best referrals come from our customers, then why do we expect to gain referrals quickly from people that we meet through networking activities? While it can happen, meaningful exchange with new acquaintances is rare. Significant exchange is normally the product of intimacy and trust which needs to be built over time.
Wouldn't it be more productive then to first view networking as a process to better serve our customers, thereby driving more customer advocacy and referral? Imagine being able to connect your most important customers to mission critical knowledge and relationships just when they need it.
Building the value that we can provide to each customer will increase our ability to better serve our customers specific wants and needs. As we become an invaluable resource for our customers their interest in advocating us increases. In fact, done right you won’t even need to ask for referrals, they’ll want to brag about you to their colleagues.
Instead of prospecting at networking events, identify potential resources for your best customers. Get together with these resources at their place of business. Learn about them. See examples of their work. Begin building a bullpen of A+ providers that will be available to you 24/7 to help solve your customers challenges.
The first and most important muscle to exercise in networking is to increase your ability to solve your customer problems. Your interest has to be totally focused on your customers success…not that of helping a resource (friend) of yours get more business. The better you do solve customer problems the more goodwill you will build and the more advocacy you will receive.
Stay week we'll be taking a look at some specific professions that are really good at developing customers referrals and how they do it.

Monday, September 19, 2011

When Do You Call the Fire Department?

Have you ever had to call the fire department? It’s very easy to figure out when to pick the phone. Unless you want to get in trouble, you call the fire department, when and only when you’ve seen a fire.

What happens if you call the fire department and there is no fire? Calling in false alarms causes many problems: it wastes the time and limits the availability of a precious resource, it bothers an important contact with frivolous solicitation, and the person who calls-in the false alarm looses credibility. Call-in enough false alarms and key resources will stop responding.

So, when should we call the fire department? How about when you see a fire? In networking seeing a fire is analogous to not just seeing someone else’s problem, but also having their request for help.

When someone relates a problem that they are having to you, such as; “my payroll company is under performing,” simply ask them “is that something that you're looking for outside help with?” and they will let you know if they need your fire department.

Imagine making connections that solve significant problems and that your key resources really value. Your fire department is a precious resource...activate them wisely.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

Do you remember the game concentration (some now call it memory)? A deck of 52 playing card are placed face down on a table. You flip over two at a time in an effort to match pairs of like cards. When a match isn’t made the cards go back on the table face down in the same location. When a match is made you add the cards to your pile and accrue points. The game is won by the person who makes the most matches.

What is your knowledge at the beginning of the game? Zero, right? It’s just like entering a room or community of people that you don’t know. You speak with one person and learn a little about them. You speak to the next and then another...before you know it you meet someone with a perspective and background that would help someone you met a little earlier. You introduce the two and voila - you've made a match!

Instead of earning points for matching cards when you make matches in networking you accrue goodwill. Goodwill is the only legal tender in networking. The more meaningful matches that you make the more goodwill you build.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Do You Want to Buy?

You probably don’t go to networking events with intent to buy something. So why do you go with an assumption that someone else has the intention to invest what you’re selling? Besides the obvious buzzkill that you create by asking qualifying questions at a networking event, you leave behind all of the leverage that the person in front of you represents. 

Let’s put it really simple…would you rather ruin a new relationship by assuming someone is a prospect  and potentially get a bad reputation in the room as a “bottom feeder” or would like to establish a lifelong pipeline of opportunity? 

Leveraged networking is not the exchange of dollars; rather it is the exchange of knowledge and relationships. The primary purpose of attending events is to identify who you should meet with one-on-one. Getting to know a little bit about the background and focus of the person across from you will help you determine if a more thorough exchange would make sense. 

When you prospect at a networking event you offend people and turn them into anti-sponsors. The basis of good networking is advocacy. When people say good things about you to others you are able shorten the time it takes to establish trust and intimacy…which of course leads to valuable exchange.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Do You Have a Networking Recipe?

Networking is just about going to events, right? Well, not exactly. Many would be networkers equate event attendance with networking. They invest months and even years going to events and are not able to make valuable connections. By viewing event attendance as networking these individuals are not evolving the relationships that they begin at events past the superficial level and hence are not creating the depth of relationship that meaningful exchange is based on.

Effective networking is built on three core activities: meeting people at events (or otherwise), meeting a subset of these people one-on-one, and then creating continued connection or follow-up. A good rule of thumb for how to balance these activities is:
  • 40%        attending events
  • 40%        one-on-one meetings
  • 20%        continuance or follow-up activities

Sunday, August 21, 2011

6 Degrees of Separation – Part II

Building Exchange

The goal of networking is the efficient connection to new and valuable knowledge and relationships. The exchange of valuable knowledge between individuals takes a moderate level of intimacy, while a meaningful exchange that builds relationships takes a greater level of trust. Most of us would not risk an important relationship on someone we do not know well. Networking success is predicated on participation, relating with specific individuals, developing a pool of knowledge, and then using that pool of knowledge to connect people who would benefit by meeting each other.

  1. Get involved - attend meetings
  2. Be open to interact with everyone
  3. Figure out who you need to get together with one-on-one
  1. Meet one-on-one with potential centers of influence in one anothers place of business
  2. Find common ground, follow up well, and build credibility

Build Knowledge
  1. Develop a strong understanding of the skills, capabilities, and needs of others
  2. Help others understand your skills, capabilities and needs

Relationship Exchange

Connect the people you are meeting (centers of influence, customers, prospects, and associates) to the relationships or relationship sources they are seeking.


The glue that connects and cements each of these 4 stages is the sincerity with which we engage and assist others. Respond to others' requests to meet and return all calls and corresepondence quickly. Doing this consistently fuels your networking engine.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

6 Degrees of Separation – Part I

You’re Closer than You Think!

The leverage of networking is truly miraculous. Most people think you have to have a large network to be effective. Nothing could be further from the truth. You need to know your network well to be effective. Having intimate high quality relationships with few will always trump having a large quantity of superficial relationships with many. 

Each networker's understanding of degrees of separation can have a dramatic affect on their ability to leverage the relationships that they create. The basic rule of degrees of separation suggests that we are not more than 6 people removed from meeting anyone in the world. It is not only important to build deeper trust relationships with the people you know, but it is also important to understand who they know. 

Assumptions of the Six Degrees of Separation:
  1. Each of us has trust/advocating relationships with at least 100 people (think beyond your business relationships to family, friends, etc.). This personal grouping of relationships is called our individual Sphere of Influence.
  2. A minimum of ½ of our sphere of influence will know at least 50 people we do not know but would in some way benefit from knowing.
  3. As we contact and develop relationships with the people to whom we are introduced by those in our sphere of influence, we are able to leverage those relationships to additional levels of separation.
  4. By the time we reach the 6th degree of separation, we will more than reach everyone in the world. Keep in mind that the world population is 6 billion +.
Starting with the hundred people that we know well, we are able to quickly connect out to key individuals and resources. Build your network by building your intimacy!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

How do I get started?

This is one of the most frequent questions that people ask about networking. The question usually comes as an individual considers where to go as they stand at the threshold of a room of people networking. Should I get some food, a drink, talk to people who I know, scan name badges for a company or person of interest or stand on the perimeter and wait for someone to approach me?

Would you ever get in your car and not know where you are going to get out? Not very often. Normally, we not only know our destination when we get in our car, but we also know the route that we are going to take turn-by-turn. So how is it then that we frequently enter a room full of people with no sense of direction or destination?

Imagine how much easier it will be to “get started” when you have a destination and route.