Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Speed Networking - On Your Mark; Get Set; GO!

Speed Networking - Are You Ready?

Last week I had the opportunity to participate in a Speed Networking event and it was a great time and opportunity to meet others.

Who will benefit from Speed Networking: Job Seekers, sales people, small business owners, professionals, people who simply like to meet people, people who have a difficult time meeting people, are some that come to mind.

The truth of the matter is that we cannot do things and be totally successful on our own. We need the help and support of others and they need us. Speed Networking is an opportunity to expand your circle of friends and possibly make some long-term friendships.

I found the article below recently and thought you might enjoy hearing from Mr. Misner.

Speed Networking and Beyond

Ivan Misner: Networking
Speed Networking and Beyond
Launch yourself into a new circle of people waiting to talk to you.

By Ivan Misner June 28, 2007

Speed networking programs are showing up all around the world. These events tend to be a fun, exciting and effective way to make a lot of initial connections in a very different environment from the standard business networking meetings.

Speed networking programs generally involve people meeting each other one at a time for a short interval and then moving on to the next person in line. They are fairly structured in the way people queue up to meet. For example, one variation is to have two concentric circles of people. The individuals sit across from one another and after the set time period--generally one or two minutes--the outside circle of people gets up and moves in one direction around the circle until everyone has met.

As founder of the world's largest business referral and networking organization, you might not be surprised to learn that I have some definite opinions and ideas about how to best use speed networking as a tool for creating viable referral partnerships. First, I think speed networking is a great way to meet other business professionals in a short period of time. It's a good tool for business people to apply the "visibility" stage of the VCP Process TM--Visibility, Credibility, Profitability--that I mentioned in my past article, "Build Relationships that Last."

The potential downside to speed networking is if someone thinks this is "all" they have to do to network effectively. The key to making speed networking work, is to take those contacts and develop them over time into "credible" relationships that lead to "profitable" referral partners.
Some people have likened speed networking to speed dating. While there are clearly some similarities, there is also a subtle but significant difference. Speed dating is done to eliminate potential suitors and keep from wasting time on people with whom you share no common interests and no mutual attraction. The presumption is that you are going to follow up with only the ones you connect with during the exercise.

This speaks to why I titled this article "Speed Networking and Beyond." I don't feel speed networking can be used to its potential if you treat it as a means to eliminate potential referral sources. If you're already familiar with my material, you know how I feel about poaching at business events, looking for the big kill. Developing a strong referral base is about developing relationships with a variety of people, even when it seems you have nothing in common.

So how do you go about participating in a speed networking exercise with the proper focus to make the most of your time? Here are several points to consider:

1. Start with the end in mind. You're not there to bag the big one. You're not there to eliminate referral sources or referral partners. You're there to find ways to connect with each and every person you have the opportunity to sit (or stand) in front of for that one- to two-minute period.
If you view the speed networking exercise as a type of catalyst event (see my past article "Using Events to Gain Referrals"), you're already thinking with the end in mind. While you will not, realistically, become close friends with every person in the room, you're increasing your potential referral sources by meeting many people in one setting.

2. Conduct the exercise as a mini interview. Think in terms of what you can find out about the person you're meeting. That'll allow you to help further the goals of that individual. Forget about mining her database or trying to determine who she knows to further your goals. In working to mutually benefit one another, ask questions that'll clarify where and how you can best help your new referral source.

3. Make notes during the exercise. If you're not provided some type of contact card on which you can jot notes while in the exercise, be sure to use your own pad of paper to write down the information you discover. Be sure to note the person's interests and goals you could help achieve.

4. Follow up. If you don't follow up with those you meet during the speed networking exercise, you will only have succeeded in wasting your time--which is exactly what you were trying to avoid by attending the event in the first place. Collect the business cards of each person you sit with during the exercise. The magic happens after the exercise, in the weeks and months to come.

Set appointments with each person, not to convince them they need your product, but with the intention of becoming better acquainted, finding out what their needs are and how you can positively impact their lives. You'll realize the reason you went to the speed networking exercise in the first place: to develop more referral business.

I believe speed networking can work if it's done the right way. It can be a fun, energetic and dynamic way to further your own goals of having a thriving, successful word-of-mouth-based business.

Called the father of modern networking, Dr. Ivan Misner is the Founder of BNI and the senior partner for the Referral Institute. He has written nine books, including his recently released New York Times bestseller, Truth or Delusion? Busting Networking's Biggest Myths.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Is LinkedIn Performing for You?

Getting Value from LinkedIn

Using LinkedIn can be an effective way for hiring managers, recruiters, prospective business partners, and prospective customers or clients to find us; if we do our part. LinkedIn is not a passive activity; we need to work at it. It is like anything we do; our LinkedIn presence will reflect the effort we put in.

This effort or lack of effort is also what readers of our profile see. If our profile is weak and incomplete; is it representative of our effort in other areas of our lives? What does that tell those that find us in a search?

With that said some people think that they would be better off without a LinkedIn presence. That way they will not have to worry about their presence. This is faulty thinking! Our LinkedIn presence, our viral presence is a necessity in today's world; it is a must have. Our LinkedIn and viral presence show that we are current on today's technology, that we accept and adopt change, and that we are willing to put ourselves out there.

Key Elements to Your LinkedIn Presence

To be effective using LinkedIn these basic elements must be present in your profile:
  1. The use of keywords.
  2. Use keywords in our current and past job titles.
  3. Personalize our profile.
  4. Have a professional (not necessarily professionally produced) picture.
  5. Use applications to represent who we are and what we can do.

If you are having difficulty with your profile or would like a professional review of your profile that is a service offered by UPPROACH. Contact us and let us help you make your LinkedIn Profile work for you.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Creating a Viral Network

The facts of networking and the value of connections

When you receive invites, do you respond? You do not necessarily need to accept every invite, but evaluate the invites to see how they may build and expand your network. You need to respond to grow your network.

Have you created a unique identity that will allow you to build your brand. If you search Google for your name and find 25 people on LinkedIn; you need to differentiate yourself.

If you search networks and cannot find your name; you have the ability to create and establish your identity however you want. You also need to look at the result and think about: where is your viral presence? If you want a viral presence you need to work at it.

Do you comment on questions or post your own questions in groups and on blogs? If you are trying to establish yourself and you have expertise you must let people know. You must create yourself as the expert.

Many sites allow you to have recommendations: what do they say? Often times they simply identify you as a good person; but there are no specifics as to why; you need strong recommendations! Start by giving strong recommendations and then asking the person how they liked it and if they would like you to change or add anything. Once done ask them to reciprocate and you can now coach them because they coached you.

Are you on LinkedIn and FaceBook? Do you use Twitter? These are important elements to your viral presence because of their high visibilty on the Internet with Google, Bing, and other search engines.

Do you have a website or blog? This is another place to establish your name and create a presence as an expert.

These are some of the techniques you can use to make your network work for you.

Tell me what you are doing?

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