Wednesday, June 01st, 2011 | Author: admin
Here is an article by Ivan Misner, founder of BNI. Ivan is a great business man and mentor to others. But what I admire most about Ivan is his ability to tell a good story. Here is his latest.
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Get outside the cave, and into a network.
By Dr. Ivan Misner
A colleague of mine works in a profession—writing and editing—which entails minimal day-to-day interaction with others. He handles a limited number of projects, usually no more than two or three books at a time, and works long hours and days in isolation; he occasionally surfaces to communicate with an author or publisher about details. You might say he works in a cave with only a few air holes.
How does a cave dweller build social capital?
One day, this particular editor, feeling his isolation, crawled out of his cave to look for company. He joined a small band of writers and formed a professional writers’ organization. Energized, he joined their efforts to build the organization, attract new members, publish a newsletter, schedule presentations and speakers, arrange conferences with editors and agents, and even throw a few parties to lure other writers out of their caves, too.
All of this work was done by volunteers who were excited to build a service organization that would help writers network with one another and achieve success.
The organization grew and became the largest writers’ networking organization in the nation. While this was happening, my friend the editor made several new friends among the organization’s founding members. One of them told him of a job opening that turned into a 12-year position; this gave him steady income to support his family.
Another friend, a low-volume publisher of high-quality books, gave him several editing projects and, after his salaried job ended, gave him a full schedule of freelance work.
Many of the authors this publisher referred to the editor returned repeatedly with more projects. I was one of these authors, and have since worked on over a dozen books with the cave-dwelling editor.
Although the editor didn’t know it when he began this low-key form of networking, he was building social capital when he thought he was only having fun. Over the years, this social capital began flowing back to him in many different forms, with no direct connection to the benefits he had helped provide to other writers.
Relationships Are Currency
How many times have you seen an entrepreneur (maybe even yourself) go to a networking event, meet a bunch of people, then leave and never talk to them again?
Too often, right?
And it’s not because he doesn’t like them or ever want to see them again, but because he’s a busy—busy—person with so much going on that he can’t even remember what he had for breakfast, let alone reconnect with individuals he just met.
It’s a shame, because such new contacts are where future business is born. Don’t be misled; it’s not the number of contacts you make that’s important—it’s the ones you turn into lasting relationships. There’s quite a difference. Try making ten cold calls and introducing yourself. How well did that go?
Now call five people you already know and tell them you’re putting together a marketing plan for the coming year and you would appreciate any help they could provide, in the form of either a referral or new business.
Better results behind Door #2, right? Of course. You already had a relationship with these folks, and depending on how deep it was, most of them would be glad to help you.
So here’s the question: How can you deepen the relationships with people you already know to the point where they might be willing to help you out in the future? Here are four quick steps to get you moving in the right direction.
Give your clients a personal call. Find out how things went with the project you were involved in. Ask if there’s anything else you can do to help. Important: Do not ask for a referral at this point.
Make personal calls to all the people who have helped you or referred business to you. Ask them how things are going. Try to learn more about their current activities so you can refer business to them.
Put together a hit list of 50 people you’d like to stay in touch with this year. Include anyone who has given you business in the last 12 months (from steps 1 and 2) as well as any other prospects you’ve connected with recently. Send them cards on the next holiday.
Two weeks after you’ve sent them cards, call them and see what’s going on. If they’re past clients or people you’ve talked to before, now is the perfect time to ask for a referral. If they’re prospects, perhaps you can set up an appointment to have coffee and find out if their plans might include using your services.
See how easy that was? After a few weeks, you’ll have more than enough social capital to tap into the rest of the year.
Social capital is the international currency of networking, especially business networking. If you take as much care in raising and investing your social capital as you do your financial capital, you’ll find that the benefits that flow from these intangible investments not only will be rewarding in themselves but will multiply your material returns many times over.
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization. For more writing by Dr. Misner, visit his blog at www.BusinessNetworking.com.