Harnessing your networks

Just back from listening to Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, author of many books on networking. He says that his advice is all common sense, but unfortunately common sense in uncommon in reality. His advice:

  • Diversify your networks. Belong to and participate in several different kinds of networks, both professional and private. We usually cluster with people who are like ourselves, reducing our outreach. If we only start conversing with people who we believe will contribute with new business, we will not get much.
  • Determine your contact spheres. Which clusters do you move in? Make yourself a systematic overview.
  • Discover incentives for giving you referrals. Find and maintain touch points – how do you stay in contact with people you know, keep in touch, thank for referrals …
  • Work your network. Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and six degrees of separation are all urban myths. Of the successful degrees of separation experiments people got in touch through 4-5 intermediaries. But over 70% never got in contact. The difference lies in how we work on and maintain our networks.
  • Developing relations. Networking is more about farming than hunting. It is not what you know. It is not who you know. It is about how you know them. The relation moves through three steps: Visibility -> Credibility ->Profitability. You would probably never give your house key to a total stranger. Neither would you hand the key to one of your most important customers to a stranger. It is all about trust.

Can’t wait to get his books!