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Networking and Social Media
In the early days of the Internet, companies built websites and supplied all the content. They knew that it was critical to have fresh content as often as possible so people would come back to their site. And if people didn’t come back, then they knew they would be far less attractive to potential advertisers.
We all know how this story ended. People invested millions in these websites, stock was sold on Wall Street and in the end, people lost billions and the economy was thrust into a recession of sorts.
While some proclaimed the World Wide Web as just a fad, others re-tooled and took a new approach to the Internet. Many sites, such as Amazon and WebMD, still depend on having fresh content to keep people coming back. Many developers, however, took a new approach, creating websites where the online content is created everyday by millions of average people using highly accessible and scalable publishing technologies. These developers look to people like you and me to write about what is interesting to us and share things we deem important or entertaining. This development, known as Social Media, completely shifted how people discover, read, and share news, information and other content.
Certainly, social media gets a bad rap. It can be viewed as an expansive online rumor mill or coffee club. If you approach it correctly, however, it can be a valuable networking tool.
There are many different types of social media, including the big three – LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter. Beyond those are dozens of others. YouTube is a form of social media just for sharing video. Instagram and Pinterest are for sharing images.
There are sites geared entirely for small business and some just for attorneys … Or writers. The point is that there are tons of different types of social media. Some have better business applications than others, but there are lots of ways to connect with people on the Internet now.
Networking Rx: Networking and Non-Verbal Communication (EPS 033)
As a follow up to Episode 019 (Creating Networking Recall), Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, shares research on the power non-verbal communication has in making us memorable.
Creating A Referral Machine 7 of 7
Congratulations! You’ve established relationships and empowered that network. Great! But remember there is no such thing as perpetual motion. Too often, people work hard to create a referral machine only to watch it break down because they erroneously assume that an empowered network will just keep kicking out referrals.
Think of it like pushing a car: You have to work really hard to get the car rolling. Once the car is rolling you only have to exert mild force to keep it moving. But don’t let it stop because then it is like starting all over.
Establishing relationships and empowering the network is the Herculean push to get things moving. The mild force to keep it all moving involves three things.
ASK: Continue to ask for referrals, including things your network might not see. Don’t get frustrated if they are not referring things that seem obvious to you. Remember, they don’t live in your world and don’t see it as you do. So ask!
APPRECIATE: No matter what your network does for you, thank them. If a referral goes nowhere, thank them anyway. Why? The fact they are thinking of you is excuse enough to celebrate. Your referral machine is working!
Also, appreciation is a wonderful motivator. Dole it out and people will do whatever it takes to get more. Few people thank others. You will set yourself apart when you show your appreciation.
CLARIFY: No matter how well you educate and empower, your network is going to get it wrong from time to time. They want to help you, but they are going to send you referrals that are, well, bad.
Don’t get frustrated. They want to help and they are trying. Reconnect with them and clarify your request. One small correction in how they perceive what a good referral for you is could spell the difference between continued bad referrals and a great new client.
Networking Rx: Stand Tall (EPS 031)
Drawing on an anecdote from the opening ceremonies of the Olympic games, Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, encourages us to carry ourselves with the same pride and confidence that American athletes demonstrate in carrying Old Glory.
Networking Rx: John Millen – Guest Interview (EPS 030)
Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, interviews John Millen, executive communication consultant who encourages the use of storytelling to create impactful messages (www.johnmillen.com).
Creating a Referral Machine 6 of 7
If you do a spectacular job educating your network on recognizing referrals, great. That, however, is not enough. You need to empower them with the ability to talk to prospective clients about what it is you do.
For example, if they recognize that the displaced executive is a potential client to refer to you, great. Encourage them to strike up a conversation with the person (and they will if they know, like and trust you). And transition into a discussion about franchising. Here is an example:
“I am sorry you are in transition. What is your next move? Have you considered becoming your own boss? I understand that franchising is almost a fool-proof means of successfully being in business. I know a great franchise broker … there is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”
In addition to general conversation, empower your referral machine with non-technical buzz words and catch phrases about your industry (as well as what they mean) … Franchise Fee … Ongoing Royalties … FDD … Earnings Claim … Discovery Day. Your network should know enough to talk about what you do but not enough to do it.
Finally, encourage your network to hook you into the situation. In short, encourage the person to talk about you in a connecting sense. Returning to the example from before “I know a great franchise broker. There is no obligation to meet with him and his services are essentially free, as the franchisors pay his fees.”
Networking Rx: The Freshman Mixer Parable (EPS 029)
With the assistance of a short entertaining story, Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, demonstrates how aggressive sales tactics can impair long-term networking potential.
Networking Rx: Antti Leijala – Guest Interview (EPS 028)
Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, interviews Antti Leijala, author and entrepreneur based in Finland who provides “ultra lean” business consulting to small and micro businesses worldwide (www.ultraleanbusiness.com).
Creating A Referral Machine 5 of 7
Establishing relationships is an important first step. In so doing, you have built a network of people who are really behind you. Again, they know, like and trust you. This alone does not create a referral machine, however. Before your network can refer you, they need to be empowered. Empowered to recognize opportunities for you as well as empowered to talk or communicate about you.
People within your network do not magically know how to refer you. First, they need to know who to refer you to and they need to know when to refer you. To make this happen, it is entirely up to you to empower them to recognize these opportunities.
Consider franchise brokerage (though this applies to any business or profession). Certainly if someone comes out and says, “I am looking to buy a franchise”, your network should know to think of and refer you. But what about all the times that someone could be a great client but does not say they are looking to buy a franchise (or they do not even know that franchise ownership is an option)?
– What about the person whose spouse is looking to have their own business?
– What about the displaced executive who might not be interested in getting back into the grind?
– What about the mid-level manager that wants a way out of the grind?
If you want to create a referral machine, it is your job to paint a picture in the minds of your network as to who is a good referral candidate and what is a good situation. Here are three great ways to do this.
1) Develop a series of short 30-second commercials that concisely convey what you are looking for and what you do. Again, develop a series, so that you have a varied message. Write these out and practice them, then use them as often as possible. For help on this find the short series on 30-second commercials.
2) Even if you have a great 30-second commercial, people are not going to fully remember what you have to say. To overcome this, develop (again) a series of short summaries outlining what you are looking for. Make these short and simple (so simple that a 5th grader could understand them). Then neatly type and print them out (or even have them professionally printed) so you can quickly and easily hand them out, mail, or e-mail them to your network.
3) If you give people the basic facts, they might politely listen. But if you weave these facts within a compelling story, example or analogy, they will be enthralled by what you have to say. If you have experiences, share them. If you do not have experiences, then talk to someone who does and borrow theirs. If you have neither experience nor access to someone who does, make it up. In this situation, it is not stealing to make someone else’s experiences your own. It is not lying to craft a story that has not occurred. You are doing this to paint a picture of what a good referral looks like.
In Part 6, we will address empowering your referral machine.
Networking Rx: Reclaiming Lost Networking Potential (EPS 027)
No doubt, circumstances push people out of our lives. In this episode, Frank Agin, founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and host of Networking Rx, maintains that these people are still within our network and that there is social capital to reclaim.