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"I may forget what you said, but I’ll never forget how you made me feel"

So you think you're a good networker? Here's what others think...

Blame it on the boogie! Transform your business with some new moves

Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Don’t wait 365 days for the next one!

Want to succeed in business? All you need is love

How to plan to visit a BNI group

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 "I may forget what you said, but I’ll never forget how you made me feel"

“How do I become a better networker?” or “How do I get more out of networking?” are two questions I am asked regularly. Last month, I covered the top three characteristics of an effective networker, based on the results of extensive research carried out by BNI’s founder, Dr Ivan Misner.

Nearly 3,400 business people completed a survey, in which they were asked to choose their top networking behaviours from a list of 20.

The insights are fascinating, although perhaps not surprising. Most of the characteristics tie into the principle of ’farming’ not ‘hunting.’ It’s about building mutually beneficial business relationships.

Here are some of the other key characteristics:

  • Sincere/Authentic; you can offer the help, the thanks, the listening ear, but if you’re not genuinely interested in the other person, they will soon realise! Those who have developed effective networking skills demonstrate their sincerity at every turn. One respondent said that “it’s all about the authenticity” that someone shows you. We’ve all met people who are seemingly good at networking, but lack sincerity. Faking it doesn’t work.
  • Follows up; If you offer opportunities, whether it’s information, a special contact, or a qualified business referral, to someone who consistently fails to follow up, you’ll soon stop wasting your time with this person. As with many things in life, when it comes to networking, “the fortune lies in the follow up” and many people just don’t bother anymore.
  • Trustworthy; “It doesn’t matter how successful the person is, if I don’t trust them, I don’t work with them.” When you refer someone, you’re putting your reputation on the line. You have to be able to trust your referral partner and be trusted in return. Neither you nor anyone else will refer a contact to someone who can’t be trusted to handle it well.
  • Approachable; One respondent said that people “will forget what you said and what you did, but they will never forget how you made them feel”. Effective networking starts with approachability – everything else follows from this.

So, now you know what makes an effective networker: Listening; a positive attitude; helping others; sincerity; following up; earning trust; being approachable.

It’s not about what you say or do, it’s about how you make people feel. That’s something worth remembering next time you walk into a room full of people!

Mark

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So you think you’re a good networker? Here’s what others think...

I’m often asked: “What makes a great business networker?” There’s no easy answer. There are, however, some easy answers to the question: “What makes a poor business networker?”.

Turning up to a networking meeting and contributing next to nothing, but expecting the world in return, is perhaps the most common mistake. That’s closely followed by the “Ta-Da! I’m here folks and I’m going to tell everyone in the room just how great I am!” approach. That’s not going to win you many friends either.

So what do you think makes an effective networker? Ha! Therein lies the problem. You see, it doesn’t really matter what you think. What matters, is what others think. After all, networking is all about interacting with others.

So what do “they” think it takes to be a great networker?

The founder of BNI, Ivan Misner, decided to find out.

He asked 3,400 business people to pick the top behaviours they’d like to see, from a list of 20. From those responses, he identified the top characteristics that people believe makes a great networker. Here are the top three:

  1. Good Listener. At the top of the list is being a good listener. Our success in networking depends not on what we say, but on how well we can listen and learn. The faster you and your networking partner learn what you need to know about each other, the faster you’ll establish a valuable relationship.
  2. Positive attitude. The first thing that people see from you is your attitude, how you take things in general. A consistently negative attitude makes people dislike you and drives away referrals; a positive attitude makes people want to associate and cooperate with you. Positive business professionals are like magnets.
  3. Helps Others/Collaborative. People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Helping people shows that you care. People want to network with individuals who have a collaborative attitude. Helping others is essential as it builds trust and helps establish a strong relationship.
     

So, the next time you walk into a networking event, resist the temptation to tell everyone how great you are. Do some listening and find out how great everyone else is. They’ll appreciate it.

Mark

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Blame it on the boogie! Transform your business with some new moves.

“Sunshine! Moonlight! Good times! Boogie!” Some things just make you want to get up and dance, don’t they? Whether you should, of course, is an entirely different matter!

It can feel that way when your business is going well. You know... you just got that big new order; your largest customer renewed their contract; you secured the funding to invest in new equipment; you received a great new referral.

But what happens when things aren’t going so well? What happens when the going gets tough?

For a start, you probably don’t feel like dancing. But I’ve noticed something else. A lot of people seem to be very quick to blame others for their misfortune.

It’s Brexit. It’s the exchange rate. It’s Donald Trump. It’s the council. It’s the weather. It’s my competitors. It’s … well, everything really. Everything except themselves, that is.

When a blame culture sets in, it can be hard to shift and it can be very damaging to a business. People stop trusting each other and cooperate less. Creativity and risk-taking dry up, often replaced by fear of failure or criticism.

I’m starting with the man in the mirror

Accepting responsibility for things (even if they’re not of your making) could put you on the path to success.

As Robert Anthony said: “When you blame others, you give up your power to change.” In other words, as long as you don’t think it’s anything to do with you, you won’t believe you need to do anything differently. So you won’t. And nothing will change.

Thinking about your situation differently leads to different actions and outcomes.

So, the next time things aren’t going as well as you would like, don’t look around the room for someone to blame. Take a look in the mirror. You might not like what you see, but it’s the first step to change.

Before you know it, your feet will be tapping, your fingers clicking and that glitterball trophy will be that much nearer.

Happy dancing!

Mark

For more information on BNI in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire visit: http://www.bnieastmidlands.co.uk

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Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Don’t wait 365 days for the next one!

It’s funny, isn’t it? We all start the new year bursting with good intentions: we want to get fit; do more things that are good for us; eliminate (well, at least cut down) things that are bad for us; sort out our work-life balance; become more organised; take our business to the next level.

But all too often, life gets in the way and our resolve quickly evaporates. Maybe it wasn’t really there in the first place. Time flies by and before you can say ‘Auld Lang Syne’ it’s New Year’s Eve and we’re making the same promises to ourselves all over again.

It’s understandable. Demand for our attention has never been greater. From the moment we wake up, our priorities face a tidal wave of texts, calls, messages, social media posts and alerts, emails and meetings. Some of these are important; most are simply time-consuming distractions. For many of us, checking our phone is the first thing we do every morning, and the last thing we do every night.

Make it count. Treat every day like New Year’s Day.

Does it really matter if a New Year’s resolution fails? Well yes, I think it does. After all, if we can’t keep a promise to ourselves, how can we deliver what others expect of us?

So, here’s my checklist for success in 2017:

  • Review your objectives EVERY day, not just once a year
  • Make sure everything you do is helping you make progress towards achieving those objectives
  • Eliminate (well, at least cut down) any activity which isn’t helping you make progress towards those objectives
  • Stop procrastinating. NOW.
  • If things happen, either change your priorities or stick to them. Just don’t ignore them
  • Build a support network of trusted, positive people who share your values and have your interests at heart
  • Learn when to say no (but don’t forget to say yes now and then)

As Benjamin Franklin famously said: “Well done is better than well said”. We need to deliver on our promises; especially our promises to ourselves.

So don’t wait until Big Ben chimes. Every day is the first day of the next year of your life. Treat it as such. Refresh your personal commitments and check that your actions are consistent with their achievement.

Happy New Year!

Mark

What are you looking to achieve in 2017? Tell us and we’ll share with other BNI members.

For more information on BNI in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire visit: http://www.bnieastmidlands.co.uk

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Want to succeed in business? All you need is love

Do you remember that first, powerful, flush of love? That overwhelming drive and motivation. It almost bordered on obsession, consuming your every waking moment. Nothing else mattered. Then, slowly but surely, things began to change and the passion started to wane. Now, perhaps, things seem a little more ... humdrum. A bit more ordinary.

Don’t worry - I’m not writing a Mills & Boon here! I am talking about your relationship with your work. You know, the way it felt when you launched your business or landed your new job. Exciting.

But sometimes in business, that excitement fades and every day becomes ‘just another day at the office’. When that happens, things can spiral quickly. Research shows that many people become disengaged, dissatisfied, and frustrated at work. Let’s face it, if you’re not excited about what you’re doing, it’s hardly likely that your colleagues or customers will get too excited. 

It’s time to fall in love again.

So what changed? In my experience, the owners of small and growing businesses often find themselves doing most - if not all - of the tasks in the business; marketing, sales, product development, research, invoicing and admin. Now, I for one can pick out three or four those things that I really don’t enjoy doing. In fact, I’m probably not very good at them. And I certainly don’t love those aspects of the job.

Now, we’ve all heard the quote “Do what you love, and love what you do”, but it’s not always that simple. Sure, some of us are fortunate enough to have our dream job. That’s fantastic, and - as Confucius said - “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”

For the rest of us, I think Steve Jobs’s advice is best: “The only way to do great work is to love what you do”.

In other words, focus on what is great about what you do. That should be your motivation. Don’t get distracted by the other stuff you have to do. Either get some help from people who do love doing those other things, or just accept that those elements go hand in hand with the things you really love.

In any relationship, thought and effort go a long way.

Share the love

When you meet someone who really loves what they do, it’s incredibly infectious. Your passion as you tell your story is both moving and compelling. Business networking groups like BNI provide an excellent opportunity to share your enthusiasm with like-minded people. And who knows? You may well find someone to help you with those tasks you don’t love quite so much!

What do you love about your job? Tell us and we’ll share with other BNI members.

For more information on BNI in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire visit: http://www.bnieastmidlands.co.uk

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How to plan to visit a BNI group

This month I thought I would focus on what you can expect to see and experience, and what to look out for if you decided to visit a local BNI group.

There are many stories and anecdotes about BNI and what the system of referral marketing achieves for the members, it’s not my intention to discuss that here. However, I do think it would be useful to share what I’ve learned about what visiting a BNI group can do for you.

Firstly, why visit at all?

The answer to this is simple. I believe we are all looking for more customers to ultimately grow our businesses. What better opportunity then to actually meet them face-to-face. By demonstrating your professionalism at a meeting of several dozen business owners and decision-makers, must be the best way to directly generate business opportunities.

Not only is it a brilliant opportunity to generate more business, but BNI members understand the power of networking and not only could you generate business within the room but also potentially be introduced to thousands of business connections.  I’ve heard many stories over the 10 years or so I’ve been involved in business networking and BNI about how visiting a BNI group has netted someone tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds’ worth of business.

If it’s so good why doesn’t everyone go?

Again, a relatively simple answer.  BNI doesn’t work for everyone.

It does work for those committed to helping others first and themselves second and I’ve certainly found that it’s the best way to do quality business regularly.

What can you expect to see and experience?

The first thing you’ll see is a team of people there to welcome you to the meeting, get you settled in and introduce you to people that can help you. You will also be briefed about the meeting format, it’s great to know how the meeting works and what time it will finish.

You will see members explaining what sort of business they’re interested in and you’ll see them passing business referrals, there is even a quality-control system to ensure that the business referrals are genuine. At the end of the meeting you’ll get an opportunity to ask any questions you might have.

Oh, and you will get an opportunity to tell people what sort of business you want as well!

What time do you need to be there and what do you need to take with you?

The great thing about BNI groups is that they all meet on different days at different times which gives you the opportunity to visit a group near you at a time and date to suit you. You can look on the website www.bnieastmidlands.co.uk  and use the map to find a group near you.  The time stated is the time you should be there, after all first impressions count!

Finally, Cost.

Most local BNI groups are free to visit, some may charge a nominal fee of around £10 but that’s it.  You will also need a couple hours free and 30 to 40 business cards.

It’s very easy to find a BNI near you, there are over 550 groups across the UK!

Check out the website and visit a BNI group near you, after all it could be the best two hours you spend this year, your next “best customer” may be there!

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