A Winning Formula for Success in Networking
Sometimes we need something bigger than a 2 x 4 to hit us upside our head to get our attention! So today, I am going to hit you with a 12 x 12 x 12 – now that’s BIG!
I’m writing this from Miami, Florida where I am at a global conference for the best coaches around the world. Yes, 350+ of the top business coaches are with me learning from each other and several masters in their field. In today’s session, we were inspired by the one and only Dr. Ivan Misner, founder and Chairman of BNI – the world’s largest business networking business.
He shared an interesting statistic. Over 91% of business owners surveyed said that business networking was a critical part of their marketing strategies and that networking had been an integral part of how they grew their business! That’s a staggering number! Yet what was also interesting was how many business owners participate in business networking but they frankly aren’t very good at it!
So what if I could share with you a simple formula to help you improve your effectiveness when networking with other business professionals? Imagine if you could improve your number of leads generated each time you walked into a networking meeting? What kind of impact might that have on your business?
Interested? OK. Here it is: Remember 12 x 12 x 12! Ask yourself these three questions:
First, “What do I look like from 12 feet away?” Your appearance matters. People you meet will make a decision on whether or not they will consider referring you to their personal contacts within the first 3-5 seconds they meet you. Typically, that starts when you are about 12 feet from them and approaching to say hello.
Are you dressed appropriately for your position? Does your appearance exude confidence and success? Do you look like someone they would “like” to have their close relationships meet? In this day and age of “business casual” that often times goes as far as jeans with holes in them with an untucked shirt and sandals, do you look respectable, professional and worthy of them putting their reputation on the line? In some cases, you may have to admit the answer is “not really!”
Second, “How do you come across up close – 12 inches away?” Are you comfortable and confident in your handshake? Are you courteous and appropriate in your speech? Is your grooming consistent with your position and industry?
As you begin to converse with someone new, they will pick up on your unique characters – both good and bad. They will notice whether your hair is neatly trimmed, if you shaved that morning, if you talk with food in your mouth. All the while, others are asking themselves, would I risk my reputation with my close relationships by making an introduction for this person? You do not want to give them any reason to say “No”, and every reason to say “Sure”.
Thirdly, “What are your first 12 words?” When given the opportunity to answer the “so what do you do” question, what is your USP – your Unique Selling Proposition. Are you clear on your message? Does it get others to ask, “Interesting – so how do you do that?”
You don’t have long to keep their attention, so you’ve got to be prepared with a compelling, short, powerful “so what” for what you do. Have you rehearsed it? Does it roll off your tongue easily and naturally? If not, you need to practice and practice before you walk into the networking event.
Follow these three principles and you’ll be certain to improve your ability to gain referrals from networking. Ignore these and you’ll be stuck simply having a cheap meal and no business while you waste yet another 2 hours talking to people without a purpose! Which would you choose?
If you’re already a pro at networking, I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. Respond to this newsletter and tell me what you think. If you have other tips we should share, please send them and we’ll be sure to give you credit for your ideas.
The more we learn and the more we share, the more we all grow our business faster!
Happy Networking! Thanks Dr. Misner!