By Dr. Ivan Misner
In generating referrals for your business, you are going to want to spend less time with frogs and more time with princes and princesses − and at the same time, make sure that YOU aren’t a “networking frog,” either!
How do you become networking royalty and find other like-minded referral partners, avoiding the amphibians out there? Let me give you some tell-tale signs that you might be kissing a networking frog:
• This person is always asking you for referrals, introductions, and favors but rarely reciprocates.
• This person doesn’t seem to have the time to sit down and really learn about your business, goals, and ideal customers.
• When you schedule face-to-face meetings, this person often reschedules the night before or the day of your appointment.
• This person takes forever to return your phone calls and emails, if at all.
• This person rarely goes out of his way to help you, and seem inconvenienced when complying with your request for assistance making a connection.
• This person often makes you feel like you're just okay to be around, and may not be quite "big enough" for strong collaboration.
• This person talks excessively about herself and her business. She rarely asks you questions. If she does ask, she really doesn’t listen to your answers.
• When you do get around to sharing something about your business, he quickly turns your comment into a chance to move the spotlight back on himself.
• At networking events, this person is hunting for new prospects, shaking hands, and passing out as many business cards as humanly possible, moving quickly from person to person.
• When you exchange business cards with this person, he doesn't even glance at your card, never makes a written note on the back, and quickly tucks it away in a pocket.
• While you are with this person, she is always looking around to see who else she can be meeting, rather than focusing her attention on you with continued eye contact.
• You always feel a little slimy after an encounter with a networking frog.
How can you be sure that you are a networking prince or princess and not a frog? The simple answer is to do the opposite of what the networking frog does! A great example of networking royalty is my friend, Jerry.
Jerry is always giving referrals and making introductions for his referral partners, many times before they even ask! Jerry is constantly going out of his way to help people with their businesses, because he has invested the time and energy to learn what his referral partners are looking for in a potential client. When you talk to Jerry, you really feel listened to - he maintains eye contact and focuses on you. In fact, you almost have to force him to share about his business and how you can help him! You can count on Jerry to follow up on referrals you send him in a timely manner, and he returns your calls and emails within a day or two. If you run into Jerry at a networking event, he’s greeting new people with a smile, introducing them to others, and just being generally helpful. After an encounter with Jerry, you feel like royalty!
That’s how to become quickly known for being a Networking Prince or Princess.
Unfortunately, you may not be able to tell if you’re dealing with a frog in your first meeting with someone. It make take a little time to discover a person’s true networking nature, so keep your eyes peeled for the signs above. Sometimes frogs are on their best behaviour at networking events. Their scales and warts reveal themselves later in follow-up interactions with them.
In networking, you are simply going to have to kiss some frogs to find your true princes and princesses. Just make sure that you are not being a Networking Frog yourself. Pattern your networking skills after my friend Jerry, and you will become known far and wide, throughout the land, as networking royalty.
Called the “father of modern networking” by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author. He is the Founder and Chief Visionary Officer of BNI (www.bni.com), the world’s largest business networking organization. His book, Networking Like a Pro can be viewed at www.IvanMisner.com. Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com).