Networking HQ BLOG with Larry James

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

What If I Hadn’t Answered the Phone?

Several years ago I was getting ready to leave my office for a networking luncheon meeting. As I was heading out the door, my office phone rang. I had only a split second to choose to answer or allow my voice-mail to pick up. I answered the phone and I am glad I did.

Over the past several months I had been talking with a client about presenting a series of networking events in Chicago and discovered that she was calling from a hotel in Scottsdale – the same hotel as my networking meeting. What a convenient coincidence. I told her I was on my way to her hotel to a business networking meeting and invited her to go with me. She accepted.

NET-InviteClientI was excited to introduce her to my friends and to let her see that I was actually practicing what I preached and to be an example of how important my networking meeting was. Another coincidence was that I had been asked to present my “Ten Commitments of Networking” talk for the group and since she had not heard me speak I was glad it was all coming together.

After the meeting was over, I was anxious to meet with her to talk about the Chicago event, but she had been cornered by someone who was interested in her business. I watched as she made an appointment to meet with them later that day.

I found out later that she had other business in Scottsdale and was calling me just to stay in touch, not being sure we would be able to meet during her visit.

The point I want to make is that unless it is absolutely necessary, never miss a networking meeting. If you have a meeting scheduled and a client shows up at the last minute… invite them to go with you. In other words, having a client show up at the last minute is no excuse for missing a meeting. You have to think smart and fast.

This was not the first time I had invited a client to visit a networking meeting with me, but it was the series of events on that day and the twists and turns that happened that made it one of the most financially profitable invitations for both me and her. She booked me for a series of 7 networking seminars for her company and invited some of her special clients to attend at no fee (another one of my creative ideas). I later discovered that she made a big sale as a result of attending my meeting with me. After the 6th networking event in Chicago, one of her clients booked me for a networking seminar for their large insurance company – about 165 sales associates attended.

I know. They all don’t work out like that, but what if I had gone to the meeting without answering the phone as I was leaving my office? Literally thousands of dollars would have been down the drain. Last minute or not, invite your clients to your meetings (buy their breakfast or lunch), allow them to see how active you are in the networking community… especially if you think they or someone they know would be a good fit for the group you’re involved with. If they are attending for the first time, you should make sure that you introduce them to other people in your group who may need their product or service.

It’s important to get to the point where your networking is so integrated into your normal business activity that it no longer feels like something you must do, but that you truly enjoy doing, not only for you but for others as well.

A true networker is one who constantly seeks to form new relationships and strengthen them by helping others solve problems and achieve their goals. The next time you attend a business networking event, take along a referral partner, client or other contact from your own personal network.

How committed are you to your networking group?

BONUS Article: Demonstrate Your Commitment to Networking ~ Here’s How
Invite Your Referral Resources to Your Next Networking Meeting

netHQCopyright © 2015 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

the-archives2Click for Archives! ~ commentSubscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: CelebrateLove.com, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com and CelebrateIntimateWeddings.com

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Demonstrate Your Commitment to Networking ~ Here’s How

With all the busy demands on our time made by our business, professional and personal lives, it’s easy to assign a lower priority to networking as an activity designed to meet new people. Your time is valuable. You have to assess key reasons as to why you need to be at your networking meetings consistently.

NetMeetingCommitmentWhen you belong to a business networking group it’s important to maintain a level of loyalty to the group. There are very few genuine excuses that I would accept for not being at “every” meeting.

An excuse that often comes up is, “I have an important meeting with a client and cannot attend.” Really? Have you ever considered that you might have a lot to gain by inviting your client or business acquaintance to your networking meeting, introduce them to others in your network and have your meeting with them after the meeting or reschedule for later. Why wouldn’t you want to help your client widen their center of influence and contacts?

The first time I did this I was scheduled to make a presentation to the group and thought this would be a good time for my client to see me in action. He was impressed that I also gave 4 business referrals to four members.

I know. This may not make sense to some. I’ve been networking long before we called it networking and I have had numerous instances when a client wanted to meet on the day of my networking meeting and I have explained that I have a weekly (or monthly) meeting commitment and would like for them to join me for lunch (or breakfast) with my group. It doesn’t hurt to ask. Several potential clients went so far as to join my group. One client was so impressed with my commitment that she came to the meeting and two of the members actually ended up doing business with her. An unexpected result.

“When was the last time you invited a referral source to a networking event? Introducing him to other businesspeople you know gives your source an opportunity to meet others in your target market and may also provide new business opportunities.” ~ Ivan Misner

The clients you invite to come to the meeting with you do not necessarily have to be a good addition to your group. Your intention is not to recruit them into your group – although that could happen – it’s to allow them to see you in action within your group and to let them be an important part of your networking community for an hour or so. There may be no more powerful way to demonstrate your commitment to networking than to invite them to visit your group with you. Every client that I have ever invited to visit one of my networking meetings has thanked me for the invitation and has been impressed that I would think to do it.

“Networking can be your life support. It can propel you to the next level professionally, while simultaneously enhancing different aspects of your personal life.” ~ Amanda Ebokosia

By the way… let’s stop calling business networking groups “leads” groups! I recommend calling them “referral” groups. There is a distinction that networkers must learn. There is a BIG difference between a lead and a referral. It’s very important to know the difference if you want to be a successful networker. Here’s why. Read: “Is It a Lead or a Referral?

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Copyright © 2014 – Larry James. Adapted from Larry’s latest book, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Networking Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

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commentSubscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

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Monday, May 27, 2013

Breaking Out of Your Comfort Zone

Filed under: Comfort Zone,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:30 am
Tags:

Donna Fisher, Guest Author

Every year thousands of events are held in cities all across the country, giving people the opportunity to network. By attending a conference or convention of your industry you place yourself in a fertile networking environment. That experience can be fun, productive, and valuable or it can be uncomfortable, unproductive, and time-consuming. It’s all up to you — how well you prepare for and conduct yourself at the event.

netEVENTPreparation for a Networking Event

Learn everything you can about the event — activities, attendees, schedule, etc. Then determine what will make you feel comfortable: Should you go with someone you know who’s also attending? Is it appropriate to bring a friend, associate, or client? Would it be more profitable for you to be an attendee or an exhibitor?

Identify the People You Want to Visit

A convention is a great opportunity to strengthen existing relationships and expand your network. Think about who will likely be there and make a mental note of the new contacts and reconnections you want to make.

exchangeBusCardsParticipation at a Networking Event

• Get Involved One way to put yourself at ease is to give yourself something to do. Volunteering not only gives you a job to do, but gets you involved and naturally connects you with other volunteers and participants.

• Focus on Others Rather than worrying about what you’re going to say, focus on what others are saying. When you have your attention on something or someone other than yourself, your self-consciousness will disappear and others will be more likely to remember and appreciate you.

• Listen and Gather Information Good conversationalists know the importance of listening. It conveys a natural interest in others and enables you to be more aware of what to say and talk about in order to keep the conversation flowing.

• Use People’s Names Pay attention as people introduce themselves so that you can address them by name during the current conversation and increase chances of remembering their name at a later date.

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More info click cover!

• Move on Graciously A networking event is a place to meet and mingle. Yet, people often feel uncomfortable ending a conversation so they can mingle and talk with others. Just be gracious, with a closing comment such as “Nice to meet you. Have a good afternoon.” “Good luck with your new venture.”

• Exchange Business Cards Business cards are best exchanged when there’s some stated reason to do so, such as “I’ll call about scheduling a time to get together for lunch” or “Give me a card and I’ll send that information to you tomorrow.”

• Relax, Have Fun and Enjoy Yourself People often get uptight about attending networking events because they feel they have to find a new prospect, make a sale, or accomplish some significant goal. Networking is meant to be fun. Relax. The more at ease you feel, the more likely it is you’ll make some good solid contacts. The goal shouldn’t be the quantity of interactions, but the quality.

There are possibilities all around you — people are just waiting for someone to break the ice. That someone could be you!

DonnaFisherCopyright 2013 – Donna Fisher – Reprinted with permission. Donna Fisher, CSP (Certified Speaking Professional), is a professional speaker, trainer and author of Power Networking: 59 Secrets for Personal & Professional Success. She teaches people skills essential for business success. For further information: www.DonnaFisher.com or 800-934-9675.

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netHQLarry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

8 Steps To Build Relationships After A Networking Event

Deborah Shane, Guest Author

Headed to a networking event? Keep these tips in mind…

We spend considerable time networking in person because we know it’s still the most important way to build relationships with colleagues, peers and potential new customers. We pick the events we want to go to and we prepare.

exchangingCardsFor bigger conferences, we spend even more time preparing for the sessions and events we want to attend, people we want to meet and build in time for random hook ups.

When you return from a conference you had been planning for, sorting it all out in an organized, timely process is the key to beginning the conversion from connection to relationship.

I talk a lot about the importance of blending in-person networking with social media. The importance of Integrating your personal marketing and branding activities to build reach and impact. I delivered this very content recently at XPO NYC, the largest B2B conference in the northeast.

There is the planning to go, being there and the follow up, probably the most important way to leverage your RON-return on networking.

There are three important things to consider after going to any in-person event but especially bigger conferences.

• Prioritize contacts
• Customize follow-up messages
• Timeliness

brightIDEAHere are eight steps for converting the information and connections into actionable relationships after a big conference.

1. Sort Through Your Cards And The People You Met

Hopefully, every card you got was a person you owned a moment with, or had a meaningful exchange with. I like to write a word or two or note on the card to remind me of what we exchanged.

2. Review All The Sessions You Attended

Take the program and review all the sessions you attended and what was presented. Add notes to the notes you actually took during the session while reviewing it.

3. Review All The Notes You Took

Go through all your notes and highlight the key ideas from the speakers and that you wrote down.

4. Review The Handouts And Information You Got

Take the time to review all the handouts, leave behinds, worksheets, post cards you took home with you. Take advantage of any incentives offered to you by the speakers and conference presenters.

5. Prioritize And Define Who To Follow Up With And Why

Although we gather cards at these events, prioritizing the warm connections and ones that make the most sense to follow up on should be followed up on first. Qualify why, and be specific about what you will follow up with them about.

Deborahcover

Click cover for info

6. Draft A Customized Follow-Up Letter To Each Group

Divide your connections into groups and customize a follow-up letter to them, that makes sense and is appropriate for why you should continue. Being thoughtful about this to them will make a big difference.

7. Invite Them To follow Up On Social Media

This is the bridge that can help you get into people’s communities, stream, conversations and get you started in building commonality. Use LinkedIn as a starting point, add Twitter and then if appropriate Facebook. Comment on their blog, or invite them to yours.

8. Create A 30-Day Follow-Up Plan

For the contacts you make you want to develop, make a 30-day plan for each person, or the group of contacts that you met. Be consistent, and interact as regularly as possible. Show up, be a part of and join.

Relationships don’t happen in a week!

These eight steps should be started and worked through immediately. The timeliness of follow-up is critical. You will want to get back to people while you are both fresh in each other’s minds.

DeborahCopyright © 2013 – Deborah Shane. Deborah Shane was named a Top 100 Small Business Champion for 2012 and Top 100 Small Business Podcast 2013 by SmallBizTrends.com! She is the Author of Career Transition-make the shift, a personal branding strategist, social media catalyst, writer and speaker. She hosts a weekly blog and a small business radio podcast with over 240k downloads. Deborah’s articles are featured on and regularly quoted in SmallBizTrends.com, Forbes.com, Entrepreneur.com, PersonalBrandingBlog.com and Monster. Engage with her @DeborahShane and visit her at DeborahShane.com.

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netHQLarry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Cut! Take 27! – That’s a Wrap!

Filed under: Network Training,Networking Events,Networking Tip — Larry James @ 7:00 am

When actors are shooting scenes in a movie, if the scene didn’t go well, the director will shout, “Cut!” Next, he will have a few brief words with the actors and do another take. When the actors do the scene to his satisfaction, he’ll say, “That’s a wrap!” and move on to what’s next.

moviesetIt seems to me that with so many people attending large networking events that after a few events they would see that how they are attempting to network isn’t working and the next time. . . do another take!

Hmmm. Some people never learn.

Networking is such a popular contact sport that you would think that after a few unsuccessful events – meaning: no significant change in business or no one seems to be wanting to contact them – that they would learn from the errors of their ways and seek some support from someone who knows the ins-and-outs of business networking or, at least, stop and observe how the winners are doing it. Yet, they toil on, soliciting business, collecting business cards and hoping at the next event things will improve. That’s insane!

They keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Pardon me, but “It ain’t gonna happen!”

They press on being someone’s new pest. . . asking for business when what they should be doing is focusing on making new relationships with people that “they” might be able to help.

If you want to call attention to yourself, you must pay attention to others! ~ Larry James

“Effective” business networking is about developing long-lasting business relationships, not about soliciting business or collecting a pocket-full of business cards you can call by phone or solicit by e-mail. True quality networking takes time. It is never a slam-dunk!

Developing long-lasting business relationships takes time. “NetHustlers” – that’s what I call these pests – just don’t get it. They wait until business is so bad then they zoom in on anyone in their way to try to “get” as much business as they can without the slightest notion that this strategy isn’t working. By that time they are so desperate that they piss more people off as they blunder along, getting nowhere.

There is hope! You can do another take. You get a “do-over!” However, before you can correct a problem, you must be willing to admit that it exists!

networking-eventAsk anyone successful in business networking how they do it, and there’s at least one thing they will all agree on: “You will never make it without the guidance of special people who have walked the networking path before you.”

If you have been successful at networking, make it a point to help these people. At your networking meetings, share ideas that have worked for you. Make it a special part of every meeting. When introducing yourself, add a brief networking tip that has helped you make new friends and get new business. Encourage others to do the same.

You might even have a networking “Top 10” tip sheet that you hand to others at networking events along with your business card. Make sure you write something like, “These free networking tips are compliments of (your name and your business contact information).”

Consider sponsoring a “Free” networking training session at your business. Invite people in businesses that you would like to get to know better.

Encourage the leaders of the networking groups you attend to always have a small part of each meeting be dedicated to learning more about how to network more effectively.

Attending a large networking event? Offer networking tips to break the ice. Or, ask the new person you just met, “What has been the most effective tool you have used to network?”

If you are someone who feels the need to network better, the next event you attend, set a goal to meet three people, at most, with whom you have more than a 10-second conversation. Ask them what kinds of clients they serve and ask what types of people they want to meet. This next question should get their attention, ask them how you can help them. You see, the goal is NOT to meet lots of people, the goal is to single out people that you may be able to assist in their business. If you both “click,” and you see there is possibility in the meeting, ask for a business call and promise to call the next day to set up a time to get together – to see how you can further assist them.

Believe me, this approach will take your networking to another level.

If that doesn’t get their attention, they are probably dead that they haven’t been buried yet. 😉

Always remember: Business networking is about building authentic, long-term business relationships with the intention of assisting each other as you get to know each other better. Become a trusted source for quality referrals and contacts. Always be helping others connect to the people they need to know.

netHQCopyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Friday, June 3, 2011

Are You a Victim of Network Drive-bys?

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Have you been assaulted by a business card bombardier who only wanted to sell you something? Attended one of those “grab and gab” and “tell and sell” rubber chicken so-called networking events where you left feeling violated?

Have you ever been violated by people claiming to be networking but are just out for themselves and what you can do for them? Networking sometimes gets a bad rap because of people like this. If you’ve been left with a bad taste in your mouth for networking and think it’s just for blood sucking shameless self-promoters perhaps we can share a few ideas that can put all that incorrect thinking in the garbage can where it belongs.

I have attended large networking events that the first two paragraphs of this article describe and walked away feeling like I had wasted my time. The losers are the ones who I do my best to ignore. It’s hard because most of them are in your face pitching their product or service. They have yet to learn that networking is not about “tell and sell.”

There’s also no such thing as a bad event. It is what you decide to make of it. Many times it’s not the networking event itself, but those people who have no clue on how to network. Your attitude is everything. You can always walk away feeling good that you attended if you put aside your expectations and go with the flow. Make the best of every meeting or event you attend.

Any event that has more that two life giving, cancer curing, weight losing, pyramid schemes pitching, morons complaining about the economy, time-wasters, multi-level marketing fruit juice true believers is probably going to be void of any meaningful intention to build business relationships. Plan to avoid these groups. Idiots attract other idiots, and winners attract other winners. You want to go to networking events hosted by winners. Never return to events where most attendees have what I call a seller’s mentality. These people couldn’t care less about what you do. They only care about making sales. Making sales is important, but taking the time to build mutually beneficial relationships is far better.

Look for a group the encourages people to mingle and share ideas; where members are encouraged to exchange business cards, exchange contact information and offer tips on potential business leads. In other words, sharing is the key word.

People make fantastic business contacts that advance their careers immeasurably at networking meetings and events. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s difficult to navigate around the losers that attend these events. Sadly many of these people have never been exposed to the intricacies of networking that pave the way to business success.

Here is the truth. You build business by building community. You build community by nurturing long-term business relationships and by surrounding yourself with the kind of people in your network that are of like mind; people who know the rules and who abide by them. Networking events require patience and perseverance and more patience. One of the most common mistakes people make is to go to a networking event and expect immediate results, that simply does not happen.

Networking is not an event. It is a process of building relationships. It is an exchange, not an exploitation you only use to YOUR advantage. Networking is at its most effective level when both the networkers benefit from the relationship. Once the relationship is solid, you gain the respect of others by exchanging quality business leads and offering your assistance to others in any way you can. After that, the referrals begin to flow – slow at first – but worth the wait.

exchangingbusinesscardsIt doesn’t matter how many business cards you pass out (or collect), if you do not focus on getting to know one another on a deeper level.

I share some of my most valuable secrets with others in my network once trust has been established. Many who know me will verify that. The better we know each other and trust one another, the easier it is to do business with each other, and a greater level of trust is but one of the goals. I have no secrets because I tend to be less concerned about competition than most people I know. There is enough business out there without living with the fear that someone else will get all the business if you share your assistance with others.

Networking, for most people, is not a natural skill. It can and must be learned.

Generating business through networking is only as good as the network you belong to. Look for a group that encourages you to attend periodic seminars where you can learn more about networking. Look for additional networking opportunities and educational training from other sources outside of your group that will assist you with cooking with Networking’s Secret Sauce. Scout around for networking events designed to connect savvy professionals seeking to build their networks and create opportunities.

A commitment to progress in learning networking skills is important. Most successful networkers are not born that way. They learn the skills of networking, because they know that the rewards will be increased business and connections that will help them build their business. The rewards for networking can be enormous.

If you continue to bounce around from group to group without at least learning the basics of networking. . . who’s the real loser in this situation?

If you have unrealistic expectations when attending a networking group or event, you will surely be disappointed. Unfulfilled expectations always cause problems.

It’s better to network with a clear head. Avoid alcohol. If you are going to drink – drink a soda and hold it in the hand that you don’t shake hands with. The condensation on the drink that you are holding causes your hands to be wet, cold and clammy when you are shaking people’s hands.

networkpuzzleI’ve actually heard people say, “I’m always nervous before I go to these things. I’m scared of approaching people, I’m scared of saying something dumb, I’m scared of sitting in the corner alone like a weirdo.” Here is another truth: You can’t act like a wallflower at a grade-school dance and expect to build relationships. You must get better acquainted with the people in your network.

So. . . who are the winners? They are the ones who fit the pieces of the networking puzzle together by getting up some courage, holding out their hand, saying “hello” and introducing themself to someone new. The winners for me are the ones who are still lingering for 20 to 30 minutes after the event ends. They are having meaningful conversations and some are expressing an intent to get together outside of the meeting to learn more about how they can help each other. They focus on being up-to-date with the latest networking strategies. They go out on a limb. They are willing to network out of their comfort zone.

BONUS Article: Think You Know HOW to Network?
How to Avoid Becoming a Networking Jerk
Don’t Be a Networking Jerk!

Larry’s note: A special “Thank you!” to Sarah Michell, CPS for sharing a few ideas for this article.

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Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! Invite Larry James to speak to your group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Building a Case for LARGE Networking Events!

Filed under: Guest Author Articles,Networking Events,Networking Video — Larry James @ 7:00 am
Tags:

Gelie Akhenblit, Guest Author

Recently, I heard a comment that I’d like to share with you and then address it with my thoughts to see if I can shed some light on the situation. “Gelie, I really don’t like attending the large networking events with too many people because it’s difficult to connect and I’m not sure I’ll be able to network properly.”

Hmmm. . . well here is a question for you. How often do you get out and network? Do you have enough time in the day or month to stay in touch with all those wonderful connections that you have made in the past? If you are a working individual, the answer to this question, generally, is “NO.” You’re busy making money. . . you can’t be having coffee with people all day long, right?

So how do you stay in touch with all your contacts??

One of the best things you can do, and this is what I do, is go to the large events. It is at the large networking events that you are likely to run into people that you know but haven’t seen or spoken in a while. Why is this good? Well…don’t you want them to remember YOU?

Look, we are all human. And as great as you think you are…people will forget about you if you don’t stay on their radar. You have to physically stay in front of people so that they remember who you are and what you can do for them. They’ll be happy to send you referrals. . . if they remember you.

So while large events can be overwhelming – you have to walk in with a strategy and walk out a winner! If you don’t know anyone and are meeting people for the first time, then pick a certain geographical area of the room and stay there. If there are a lot of people, then they will keep moving around and you just have to stay in one spot. This could alleviate your anxiety and create a win for you!

Here is a great quote from Jessica McGee, WriteLogiq, who was an attendee at our recent BIG networking event with 800 guests:

“Congratulations on such a great event last night!!! I know I had a total blast. Amazing how many people I ran into that I already know but it was great to stay fresh in those minds, reconnect with others, and of course gather a slew of new connections!”

Now there is a win! Build your strategy, figure out what you’re going to get out of a big event and then go accomplish it!

Gelie Akhenblit, Founder of NetworkingPhoenix.com, gives some great tips on the following video for people who like to network at large events.

There are a number of reasons why people attend networking events. These include:

• Salespeople looking for new prospects
• Consultants looking for partners on joint projects
• Job seekers looking for job leads
• Entrepreneurs looking for funding sources

BONUS Articles:Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .
Choosing a Networking Group
Breakfast or Lunch? Getting the Greatest Bang for Your Buck!

Gelie Akhenblit

netHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Gelie Akhenblit. Gelie is the Founder of NetworkingPhoenix.com. NetworkingPhoenix.com is the Valley’s one-stop-shop for professionals, entrepreneurs, small business owners, individuals in transition and anyone else looking to find networking events, chamber of commerce mixers, useful business seminars and leads clubs. The site posts a free consolidated calendar publicizing events hosted by various local groups and organizations as well as a wealth of training seminars, workshops, and other educational opportunities to help you develop your networking skills and expand your business.

Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking Article,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

It has been my experience that eventually it will be time to settle into a single neworking group and focus all you networking energy there. Hard-contact networking groups are groups that are very structured and play by the rules.

In other words, you “must” attend “weekly” meetings where the group’s leader calls the meeting to order, goes over housekeeping stuff, and then everyone gets a chance to do a 30-second connection (some call this an elevator speech) of themselves. Once people know who everyone is and what they’re looking for, then you can get up and network at will. A little structure never hurt anyone. As a matter of fact, my belief is that it is required for the group to function effectively.

netFUNIf you haven’t already found a group that suits you, visit as many groups as possible that spark your interest. This may take some time to determine your interest in them and their interest in you.

Notice the tone and attitude of the group. Mix and mingle with as many members as possible. Do the members of the group demonstrate a support for one another? Does the leadership appear competent? How often do they meet? (Weekly is always BEST). Ask lots of questions from lots of people there to get a feel for the group. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

Do they feature outside speakers with relevant networking topics? Do they feature a member each week for 5 to 7 minutes to help the membership to get more acquainted with their business? Networking should be for fun & profit. Some groups will allow you to visit several times before joining.

Are their meetings at breakfast, lunch or evenings? People who get their day started on a positive note with a breakfast meeting are often the most serious networkers. Lunch is next on my list and evenings are low on my list. I’ve noticed that people who are not doing well, seem to gravitate to the evening meeting and will often head to the bar and are really not that serious about networking. There are exceptions, so choose carefully.

You may want to call a few members and schedule a time to get together to determine their success with the group and overall impression of the members. Look for groups and contacts relevant to your aims and capabilities.

It’s important to note that I am not talking about the ulta-large groups where hundreds attend and few actually now the ins-and-outs of networking. The more relevant your targeting of groups and contacts, the more useful your meetings and referrals will be. A group of 30 to 60 works well because you actually get to know the members faster and can get down to some serious relationship building. Networking is about relationships.

directionAsk yourself, “What can I contribute to this networking community which people will find truly helpful?” Next, work hard to extend that help – whatever it is – to as many relevant people as possible. When the group’s intentions are not so much sales-oriented, but more focused on making long-term relationship, these groups are much more successful.

The goal of the your networking group of choice is to bring together a group of business owners and professionals who are truly best-in-class in their respective business categories, and create a sense of responsibility for each member’s growth and success. The members should make every effort to learn about each member’s business, gain trust and confidence, refer high quality prospects and enthusiastically promote each other whenever possible. These ideas would be a great mission statement for any effective networking group.

Once you find a networking group that fills your needs and whose members you may be able to contribute to, stop and get busy networking. You choose! Take your time and make sure the group (and you) is headed in the right direction.

BONUS articles:Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .
Choosing a Networking Group
With Wallet or Purse in Hand. . .
Does Your Networking Group Have a “Community” Presence?

netHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
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Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
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Thursday, January 6, 2011

Choosing a Networking Group

Filed under: Choosing a Group,Networking Events — Larry James @ 7:00 am

Networking in the wrong places won’t help you or your career contacts. When deciding which networking groups to join, consider how much time is actually available to network. There are so many different types of networking events to choose from. Any place where people gather offers a potential networking opportunity. Chosen carefully, an effective networking group can generate business in ways traditional marketing and advertising alone cannot.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when considering a networking group.
Choices
• What are you trying to achieve through business networking?
• How long as the group been in existence?
• What is the depth of commitment at the leadership level?
• What is the format of the meeting?
• Is there a structure or are you just left to your own devices to introduce yourself to people?
• How often are the meetings?
• What steps have been taken to develop a structure that encourages the kind of business relationships necessary to build a successful business?
• Do you enjoy spending time with these people?
• Is there chemistry and opportunities to develop real friendships?
• Who else attends the group and will they be the right people for you to team up with?
• Are members obliged to pass Referrals at every meeting or is it a more relaxed affair?
• Are you required to attend every meeting?
• Does this networking group have a “community” presence?

Decide what time of day you are at your best! Are you a morning person? Or do you prefer to meet for lunch or an evening meeting? Most groups will allow you to attend at least one meeting before asking you to commit financially. When you visit for the first time, observe the level of comfort the group members have with each other. Loyalty within the group is very important.

Check out several groups to find the best chemistry and perceived value. You may have to pay a small fee for lunch or breakfast, but by attending these meetings it will give you an idea of what to expect and whether or not its members are those you can benefit from and whether they can benefit from your business.

Call the networking event leader and find out what businesses and professions have attended their business networking events in the past. Your goal is to identify the best ways to develop relationships with those who are in the best position to introduce you to potential customers.

I will often go to hear a speaker or topic which interests me or to catch up with a number of business associates and friends in one place. Sometimes trial and error works. You might begin by compiling a list of different networking groups that are currently in your area, or areas where you would like to do business. If the group has a Website, take a look.

Ask your friends what groups they attend and ask if they will invite you as a guest so that you can find out more about the group.

Some people thrive in a structured environment. Others of us find lots of rules to be a drag. Depending on the group you decide to join, make sure that you understand the rules. Some networking organizations are very strict and you can find yourself ousted if you don’t play by the book. My experience shows me that the more structure a group has the more seriously the members take their commitment to get to know each other better and the more “qualified” business leads are exchanged. By establishing this “formal” relationship with other business professionals, you will have the opportunity to substantially increase your business.

If you join a business networking group where you don’t already know the existing members, you have to allow some time for the membership to get to know you and trust that you are honest and capable before you can expect to receive any referrals.

Many groups fall under one of 4 main categories.
choose
• Social Networking
• Business Networking
• Leads Groups
• Networking with a Program, speakers, training, etc.

I prefer the groups that have speakers on various business topics. Each has it’s own unique benefits and can help you with a well rounded presence in the business community. Often the speakers are members of the group given an opportunity to tell others about their business and the kind of business leads that work best for them. For me, education is a high priority.

I also have noticed that groups of between 30 and 40 members – only one member in each category – works best for me. I find it much better to have a lot of time to talk to people about my business rather than have a brief period to talk and then have to sit down and listen to a program. I want to get to know the members and have them get to know me. They will often know most of the others and can help to expand your network quickly. Your involvement in a networking group doesn’t necessarily mean quick returns. I strongly encourage you not to sit next to anyone you had met before.

That is difficult in larger groups because business does not always come in the first contact or meeting nor do they usually have speakers or programs. To me the very large groups are all about social networking and in many cases the people who attend know very little about the collaborative etiquette of networking. They are usually non-structured gatherings set in a social setting like a bar or party. The social business networking group is all about “mingling” or “schmoozing”, you “work the room” and meet various others that may or may not turn into business leads.

I stay away from speed networking events. This is where you have a rapid succession of three-minute one-to-one meetings during the course of a morning or afternoon. It’s fast-paced and usually you collect a lot of business cards but there is seldom much time to develop a real relationship. Collecting a large number of cards from people you can barely remember the next day (and who may well have forgotten you), may be far less valuable in the long run than taking time to get to know a few people better. Don’t waste your time on groups and connections that lack integrity or relevance.

A Chamber of Commerce can be a local, statewide, national, or international organization with separate memberships for each. They are also an opportunity to meet people. When looking for networking opportunities within a Chamber Of Commerce, most people think only of leads groups or the common after hours. The reality is that any function hosted by a Chamber Of Commerce holds opportunities for networking with other business owners and business leaders.

confusedkidFinally, what is the policy about exclusivity to selected market sectors? Some groups will only allow one member from each market category therefore creating sense of exclusivity and again this has its pros and cons. On the one hand, having exclusivity will breed a sense of loyalty between your group members, conversely if there’s more than one of you in a particular market category then sometimes you can build on one another’s particular niche offerings.

Picking the right networking activities and groups and applying a few basic principles can lead to huge benefits for businesses. If you’re confused about what group you should share your expertise with, visit several groups. Ask lots of questions. Then make a decision. The hardest part is making the decision. Once you have made your choice, stick with it. Remember, building long-term business relationships takes time. Be patient. And most of all, be loyal to the group and give it and its members your very best.

Networking is all about reciprocity. No matter who you’re dealing with, you should always try to give more than you receive. Always remember, networking is also about building trust, and seeing how your relationship can genuinely help others.

You gotta “LOVE” what you do to be successful at it. The same applies to Networking. You gotta “LOVE” to Network to make it work for you. Download Gail Sussman Miller’s free article (pdf) called, “How to Love Networking.”

BONUS Articles:Using Networking for your Business” by Jack Roberts
Shop for a GREAT Networking Group… Then STOP!”
Does Your Networking Group Have a “Community” Presence?

netHQ

Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. Larry James presents networking seminars nationally and offers Networking coaching; one-on-one or for your Networking Group! His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Something NEW about Networking is posted on this Networking BLOG every 4th day! Visit Larry’s Networking Website at: “Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG – written by Larry James – are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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Add Larry James as a “friend” to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com
Follow Larry’s “Authors & Speakers” BLOG at: http://www.AuthorsandSpeakerNetwork.wordpress.com/

Monday, January 11, 2010

Breakfast or Lunch? Getting the Greatest Bang for Your Buck!

Hmmm. Me thinks that is the wrong question!

Why?

Well, where do I begin? There are actually three times to network in groups. Breakfast, lunch and evening meetings. Each has it’s own unique benefits. Some have speakers and others offer people the chance to eat and circulate without any formal meeting. Many have a meeting charge. Most guests can usually attend one meeting without having to join the group.

Some will have a special time for members to offer a 30-second connection. Larger groups my have one member give a brief 10-minute presentation plus a speaker. Do your best to find a group that allow you to utilize your time optimally. Find a group that is vibrant and is actively growing. Check out these groups to find out if you’re compatible with the individual members and their professions.

One of the toughest things to decide is which networking group to align yourself and your business with. I personally prefer a group that has attendance requirements. The ones that do usually have more consistent attendance from their members. In addition to going to the meetings, call some of the other member businesses and ask if the group has been a source of good clients and business leads. Call the group’s leaders. Ask other members what groups they attend and ask if they will invite you as a guest so that you can find out more about the group.

It pays to check the group you are interested in very thoroughly. I look for people who are willing to brainstorm about ideas that have helped their business to grow vs. idle chitchat. I call this “collaborative sharing.” Be the one to nurture an emerging idea. I like to develop relationships with people who are big thinkers and to be able to bounce new business ideas off them. Beware of groups whose members are usually just salespeople trying to sell their stuff to other salespeople.

breakfast_networking_cartoonAre you a morning person? To me, the bacon and eggs crowd seem to be some of the most serious networkers. They have to make a special effort to get up and get going early in the morning. This plays a big part in getting your morning off to a great start. Meeting someone for coffee or breakfast at eight o’clock in the morning is a wonderful way to accomplish your relationship-building goals while saving time and money. Breakfast is rapidly becoming the new lunch.

The constant for all groups is that the participants will have the chance to talk to each other and begin to build business relationships that can grow and last. Morning meetings are sometimes problematic. How many times have those meetings with clients gotten rescheduled, or worst – forgotten? Always call to confirm to avoid any embarrassing miscommunications. Many people are more mentally alert and most creative before noon. If you don’t have time or the budget for a high-end lunch, then breakfast may be the best way to build relationships. Members can start their business day uninterrupted.

The lunch bunch were going to eat lunch anyway so it might as well be with other business professionals with the chance to mix, mingle and talk. In Robin Jay’s award-winning book, “The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2″ she says, “There is nothing as effective as breaking bread for getting to know a client, to learn more about their business, understand their needs, and find better ways to help them achieve their goals. Something magical happens when you are in a social setting, sharing food.” Skip the alcohol at lunch. Keep your mind clear.

People often will let their guard down and open up during a relaxed lunch group. “A 1:00 p.m. appointment allows you and your guest to complete a full morning’s work and be ready for a more relaxed meal,” advises Beverly Langford in her book, “The Etiquette Edge.”

Evening – Most evening meetings offer a more relaxed, casual atmosphere while meeting other businesses. Some offer hor d’ourves and a cash bar. 99% of my clients have 9 to 5 p.m. day jobs. That means they’re looking for my services after work and only available to work with me in the evenings. So, for me – unless I don’t already have an appointment with a new client – mornings or lunches are best.

“Choose only foods that are easy to eat, like grapes or crackers – nothing messy. Steer clear of the chewy, dripping, garlic-laced, hard-to-eat items at the hors d’oeuvres table,” suggest Anne Baber and Lynne Waymon in their book “Make Your Contacts Count.” Don’t forget to take small bites. When you will be socializing and making frequent introductions, it’s important not to talk with your mouth full or make others wait for you to swallow before you can speak.

Regardless of which group you choose to attend, you are encouraged to bring your business cards and brochure for distribution to the group. You will have an opportunity to network, ask questions, and conduct one-to-one meeting before and after the meetings. You may want to try all three to see which group serves you the best and where you can find friendly and supportive people to assist. Look for a creative melting pot of friendly, ambitious people.

Each category of networkers have advantages and disadvantages. The breakfast and lunch groups don’t interfere with the working day. Some groups are made up of one representative from each type of profession to eliminate competition within the group. I never worried about the competition. I focused on making myself and my business “remarkable!” Some people waste a lot of energy being concerned about their competitors rather than using that energy in a more productive way to market themselves and their business.

Look for a group whose members make you feel welcome and take the time to greet you rather than hang with everyone they already know. All offer business networking opportunities and you must follow the “collaborative etiquette of networking.

My friend, Larry Winget, in his book, “It’s Called WORK for a Reason: Your Success Is Your Own Damn Fault” says, “Get involved. Get known. Go to charity events, civic events, wine tastings, art fairs, church, whatever. Be around people. Not with a handful of business cards to pass out. Don’t even go with the idea of getting more business. Instead go there and get involved in the event. Be the kind of person others admire, can count on, trust, and enjoy spending time with. After you have developed that reputation, people will start to ask you what you do and you will be amazed at how many people will want to work with you.”

The popularity of networking meetings and events continues to grow as businesses find them to be a very cost-effective tool for increasing sales or simply building relationships with others. Schmooze like there’s no tomorrow, befriend everyone. Remember to participate fully. Don’t expect immediate results. Business does not always come in the first contact or meeting. Be consistent for best results. I belonged to one networking group for almost a year before I started receiving referrals. This type of business comes with trust and trust can take some time to develop.

And one final though: Remember, networking is about cultivating long-term relationships. If you approach someone under the guise of making a new friend, while your hidden agenda is really pure business exploitation with no genuine interest in the relationship or the person beyond what they can do for your bank account… that relationship will never end well. Be a giver! The return on your investment is exponential.

Read, “The Networking Collaborative” and “Networking Events are a Waste of Time. . .

netHQ

Copyright © 2010 – Larry James. Larry James is a Professional Speaker, Author and Coach. He presents networking seminars nationally and “Networking” coaching by telephone or one-on-one. His latest book is, Ten Commitments of Networking: Creative Ways to Maximize Your Personal Connections! Visit ” Networking HQ!”

Subscribe to Larry’s FREE monthly “LoveNotes for Lovers” eZINE. Contact: Larry James, P.O. Box 12695, Scottsdale, AZ 85267-2695. – CelebrateLove.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

Add Larry James to your Facebook page: http://www.Facebook.com/larry.james
Follow Larry’s “once daily” Relationship Tweet at: http://www.Twitter.com/larryjames
Follow Larry’s “Relationship BLOG” at: http://CelebrateLove.wordpress.com/
Follow Larry’s “Wedding BLOG” at: http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com

NOTE: All articles and networking tips listed in this BLOG are available for reprint in magazines, periodicals, newsletters, newspapers, eZINEs, on the Internet or on your own Website. Click here for details.

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