Best-Selling Author and “Black America’s #1 Networker is sharing practically everything he knows about Networking.
Networking is the #1 skill that is needed in this tough ‘New Economy’.
This video explains it all:
Create a productive network and you’ll increase your net worth!
So what is networking about? It is about building a genuine relationship by seeing the world from the other person’s perspective and by thinking about how you can collaborate with and help the other person rather than thinking about what you can get.
Your first move should always be to help. Start with a friendly gesture and mean it.
There are three networking groups, which are part of your natural network, but hugely ignored in the way you interact with them. Your network is bigger than you think and harnessing the power of this network is far simpler than you can imagine. So lets explore these three networking opportunities.
An ally would be someone that you consult with on a regular basis. List down about five to ten such people that you interact with, who you turn to for advice and who provide you with key insights in business. These allies will most often be influential people, in their own right.
Keep your radar on to spot situations where you can proactively promote their brand and stand up for them when they’re in trouble. And when you do this unselfishly, they would do the same for you.
Let them know that you’re there, be in touch with them so you come to know of such situations. Think of one who needs an urgent presentation done and you offer to help even though you’ve got enough on your plate. But this small gesture will go a long way when you realize that this person will think of you first when the opportunity comes to recommend a business, product or a professional to a prospective client.
Your allies may not be more than five to ten. But you’d have a huge network of acquaintances that you would know through your career (ex-colleagues), college or schoolmates, people you meet at conferences or just people you’ve met throughout your life who you found interesting. These are people that you are friendly with but not in constant or regular touch. You may be touching base with them once in a few months.
Because these people are outside your natural circle and would be a far diverse group of professionals as compared to your inner circle, they can bring more opportunities for you. All you need to do is to touch base with them every once in a while without an agenda, but subtly letting them know what you do.
Email them something you found interesting and relevant to them, meet them once in a while for a coffee and catch-up and in conversation, let them know what you do.
At Arkenea, we’ve driven a lot of business through our acquaintances that are far and wide and spread out across the globe. By being in touch with them just once in a while has brought us at least 10-20% of our business. When these people get the opportunity to recommend a developer to their network, they think of us.
This is where Linkedin steps in. Lets say, you have 100 connections, and assume each of your connections have at least 50 connections of their own. And each of those friends of friends has 75 connections in their network. You don’t need to be good at math to learn that you’ve got a database of 375,000 (100x50x75) people you can reach out to.
So how do you tap into this huge pool of people you have just discovered? Get to know them through introductions. Get introduced to them through your immediate network of connections and give them a reason to extend your introduction. Don’t take them for granted.
When you’re connecting with friends of friends, do not make the mistake of sending out generic mailers or messages that most people typically do. These usually go unnoticed and will just waste your time.
Instead, before you send out the introduction request, research for 15 minutes about the person and write a personalized message that will get their attention. Simply use Google to find out more about the person and their interests.
Just five successful introductions each month can go a long way in taking your business forward.
Here’s a step-by-step plan that will get you started on identifying the right networking groups and how to connect with them.
This is it. Don’t rush by trying to do it all in the first month itself. Building relationships takes time and you need to be careful about what you say to whom. So spend the first three months building it up and then follow up with the connections through the rest of the year.
A word of caution: do not plug promotional content of messaging to any of these contacts or that will take you back to the transaction selling of the yesteryears with the potential of it falling on deaf ears.
At the end of the year, you will see remarkable difference in the contribution these people would have made in your business. Just as it worked for me at Arkenea.
While it is easy to market your business to an imaginary group of people this will not produce accurate indications of your potential success. Additionally, many new businesses turn to family and friends. While this is an appealing idea, keep in mind, they are what is known as “yes men and women.” This means they may give you false hope about a product or idea that is not truly viable just to avoid hurting your feelings.
Keep in mind there are other ways to assess the market. For example, you need to make a detailed list of people you are targeting and mention the idea you have casually. You can easily do this through social media. If there is a positive response you can run with the idea you have, however this is also a great way to receive feedback. Keep in mind, most million dollar ideas change several times prior to actually launching.
Being aware of your competition is not the same as focusing on them completely. If you try to focus on your competition too much you will find yourself in a continual state of anxiety. Do thorough research and see if anyone has already come up with your idea. If someone does have the same idea, it’s very likely they have a jump on production.
Find ways to be innovative and go above and beyond for your customers. Playing the “me too” game, is something you should try to avoid.
First off, find a person or business you admire and that has found success and mimic what they do. This will help you overcome speed bumps that seemed insurmountable before.
The value of finding a mentor cannot be overstated. This person is someone who understands what you are going through and will willingly help you develop and launch your business. If possible, find someone that already knows the “ins and outs” of your industry.
When developing a start-up business you are guaranteed to encounter many speed bumps, pot holes and pitfalls on your way to success. However, if you determine your target audience, find ways to outwit your competition, and seek mentorship, you are sure to find the success you truly want. A start-up project must be nurtured and guided to success, but the journey is always worth the reward!
Listen Well~It will come as no surprise, but the way you consciously, deeply listen to what others have to say to you is vital. Ask secondary questions. Be more interested in them than in yourself.
Recognize and Take Opportunities~Any and every interaction is an opportunity for this. Make the most of every chance you have for making a difference to someone. I realize that this is a cliché but, often times you only have one chance to interface with that person and your investment in them may be exactly what they need to develop to the next level. It also speaks volumes about your true intentions.
Build Positive Relationships~Whatever the stresses and strains you are under, take a deep breath when you are going to talk with someone. Your personal state makes a difference – and they notice. ‘Respond’ rather than ‘react’ – there’s a difference.
Appreciate Others Efforts~People try hard to do their best. Start with that premise and you will be making a difference wherever you go. It’s often not the girl-on-the-end-of-the-phone’s fault – she’s probably having a tough day herself. It’s not the harassed shop assistant’s fault. Seek to understand.
Say ‘Thank You’ Often, Easily, and Genuinely ~WOW!! This is one winning strategy. Try it the next time you are out and about. Try telling one of your team members thank you…just for being them and helping your organization become what it is today. Be prepared for them to light up like a pin ball machine…..and then they will give you the “what do you want…..” look! (By-the-way, it makes you feel great too!)
See Positives In Everyone~There are positives in everyone. It’s not about them, it’s about you. The most aggressive and challenging person has energy! There are true positives in everyone and as challenging as it may be, your task is to recognize and value that everyone has something to offer! The best leaders find it and leverage it – for everyone’s benefit.
Be Gentle To Your People~Courtesy, kindness, understanding – all words hardly befitting leading edge, tough & laser focused business leaders. Ah, but that’s where you might be wrong. Business focus can be as sharp as you like, but that still means you treat people well. At the bottom of it all, they are human, just like you. They want acknowledgement, understanding and support. By supporting them when they need support, they will support you.
Be Generous With Others~In life there are many opportunities to give. Of time; of money; to things that need your support. Rarely will you be so short on resources that you can’t afford to support, in some small way, someone else. The key to this is being organized enough to have margins in your life. Don’t live so close to the edge of your finances, your time or your energy that you will not be able to be generous with others when the time comes. When you have healthy margins, you can seize the opportunities when they come.
Accept Gratitude Back~ Treat inbound thanks and gratitude well! By taking these ‘gifts’ in a gracious, appreciative way, you build relationships. Many leaders have a difficult time accepting positive feedback. When you do not graciously accept it, the perception is that you are very ego driven. A true leader with a servant attitude is not ego driven (or at least they don’t let it show.) People feel good around you when you let them into your heart.
Here are seven things successful entrepreneurs do to start their days right.
The importance of a good sleep should never be taken for granted. Sleep for a long time and you’re bound to feel drained; sleep for a short time and you’ll feel exhausted as well. I recommend exactly six hours, personally, but you can also experiment with the number of hours that works for you. Drink milk, stay away from coffee, read a relaxing book, or take a shower before sleeping – stick with the working formula.
Once you start waking up refreshed and bursting with energy, your day will only become better.
For you to accomplish this step, you actually need to make a Life Dreams manual first. To give you the gist, for discussion purposes, a Life Dreams manual simply contains all your dreams and wishes.
What makes a Life Dreams manual different from the rest is that you have a better chance of achieving your realistic and ideal dreams because you need to input basic action plans and measurable indicators of success during the course of your goal attainment.
Instead of “put up a business…”, you’re better off writing “set up a (specific) business catering to (targeted) audience by the date X. Start working on this by doing X, Y and Z. I can define it as successful if it meets the following standards…”
Your Life Dreams manual isn’t your ordinary “oh-how-I-wish” manual. It’s your “oh-look-at-me-win-at-life” bible.
Why do you want to be successful in the first place? Find out your emotional why.
We are visual creatures so get creative! With today’s technology, you can edit pictures that represent your dreams.
Collect pictures of your goals (a house with your name on it, a huge smile on a person’s face, a popular landmark you want to visit, your dream business being flocked by a lot of people, a book displaying you as the author, a popular talk show host interviewing you…)
Go and collate them all now. Hey, no one needs to see this board but you, anyway.
Now that you’re getting motivated, it’s time to pump out more hormones to make you feel happy! A happy person tends to cope better with stress and think more rationally than depressed people.
You don’t need to hit up the gym and blow off your cash recklessly. After all, being successful is about starting slowly but surely getting to the finish line.
Start by running for five minutes a day. Do this for twenty-seven days. And then after this, increase it to ten minutes a day. What’s important is that you do it consistently.
Play your upbeat music. It can even be a pop song by Justin Bieber or One Direction – no one’s judging you!
After releasing your happy hormones, it’s time to take a short break and sit down for a while. Take slow sips of water and inhale deep breaths.
Now, I know what you’re thinking – why only four? Less is more, remember? Also, the fewer items you have on your list, the higher the chance of you completing them is.
We will divide these into: one Life Dreams task, two work-related tasks, and one personal task. Put your thinking cap on and prioritize.
Your body is not consuming food as you sleep, so when you wake up, be sure to feed it nutrient-rich foods. Sugars like muffins, white bread, and creamy pancakes will give you energy for a while, but will make you feel sluggish as their effects wear off.
It’s better to eat high-fiber fruits and cereals to give you a consistent energy supply. Try filling up your omelet with greens, too, and eat your way up towards success.
Hug your partner good-bye, tell corny jokes to your kids or call your mother and chat with her for a while. This step is to make you realize that there are still people who love and care for you.
Take this moment to be appreciative of everyone around you.
The suitcase entrepreneur tends to form a business which can be run as a one-man/woman-show, as it is a lot easier when travelling around and rarely in a fixed location to work alone and be free of managing a team. However, there are a wide number who also choose to build and nurture a team of staff which is managed virtually.
Some may choose to manage their virtual offices using a number of different programs and resources, including Skype, PayPal, Drop Box, Google Docs and GoToMeeting, for example. There are others who choose to set up a fixed office in their hometown (or a location that they are very familiar with). They employ a team of staff who work in that one office and they manage that team of staff from afar.
There are other suitcase entrepreneurs who take their teams with them. They make use of rent-by-the-day offices in a wide number of world locations and the team trots from one place to another, as and when business requires it, paying for office space on a need-to-have basis.
Choosing which way to work will depend on your leadership skills, your management style and the needs of your business. The important thing to recognize is that there are many ways of managing a team of staff and many reasons for choosing to go it entirely alone too.
Whatever kind of business adventure you set your sights on and whether you decide to have a team of staff in tow or not, you will have to set up the following business features at some point and, from experience, it is far better to set up these features sooner rather than later.
1. Fixed business address
There are a number of different services that will manage your post and send it on to you, wherever you might be in the world. This makes it easy to have a fixed business address whilst on the move. Without a fixed address, your business appears less trustworthy and reputation, particularly when relying on the Internet, is everything.
2. Quad band, unblocked cell phone
Every suitcase entrepreneur needs to get setup with a quad band unblocked cell phone. Only quad band cell phones will work in every single country in the world and when the cell phone you have is unblocked you can gradually build up a stash of pay-as-you-go SIM cards to slot in to that phone every time you land in another country. Your number in each country will remain the same and you only have to pay for what you need instead of tying yourself into loads of different cell phone contracts worldwide.
3. Top-notch laptop and external hard-drive
The suitcase entrepreneur cannot function without a laptop. Make sure you buy one that is light and fairly compact but which also has a lot of power and disc space for different programs you might want to install. Splash out on your laptop. It is your most important business resource. Buy an external hard drive too, with lots of space, and back EVERYTHING up. It’s a sad day for the suitcase entrepreneur who loses everything because his or her laptop crashes and dies from too much hard work.
4. As many forms of payment and access to cash as possible
If there is one thing that you will need most, it is access to cash and a variety of ways to pay for things, send invoices and invest money in projects and ideas without having to be in your “base” location. Therefore, make sure that you get setup via PayPal, Western Union and credit cards with low or little fees when drawing out money in foreign locations. Consider signing up for a PayPal debit card too (a new service which allows you to use money directly from your PayPal account instead of transferring to your bank account) and the Travelex Card (a safer way of drawing out cash abroad, which you can manage online and which charges less in fees than PayPal).
You should also make sure that you have a direct telephone number to your bank manager and develop a strong professional relationship with this person before you start leaping across the world on your entrepreneurial adventure. You will welcome their support in difficult times.
Quite simply, if you plan to work and do business in a foreign speaking country, invest in language classes and focus on your fluency before you set foot on your first plane.
There are lots of businesses which devote their time and energies to supporting entrepreneurs and there are lots of networks and communities for the soon-to-be-entrepreneur to join too, all of which can help save time and money for new start-ups and set them on the road towards success with fewer hiccups along the way.
One particularly useful resource for those entrepreneurs looking to make international business links is Love Home Swap.
Love Home Swap is an online site designed to help frequent travelers find a way of staying in unique homes all over the world for free. When you join, you create a profile for your home and take advantage of being able to temporarily swap your home for someone else’s and save on accommodation costs when travelling for work or pleasure. It’s also a lot more comfortable staying in a home-away-from-home than it is staying in a hotel or hostel when on your travels.
Once you attain belief in yourself, you can believe in others – as all great leaders do. Use meditation and mindfulness to gain focus and clarity. This allows you to act with purpose, intention, and awareness at all times.
Whether you are the CEO, middle management, or entry level, when you act with courage and integrity, it inspires others to do the same. A big part of that is appreciating all people and the selfless acts and sacrifices they make every day.
Each day set three attainable activity goals: one personal, one professional, and one to help others. By taking action in these three areas every day, you make each day victorious. The victory is not in the results, but in the actions themselves. Even if what you do doesn’t turn out perfectly or as you hoped it would, the experience of accomplishment every day is a victory.
Surrender to a cause greater than yourself. Find your passion and live it every day. Work diligently toward your goal. Fight for what you believe in despite the obstacles in your path. Don’t wait to leave a legacy after you’re gone. Live that legacy every day.
At first, this statement seems mind-numbingly obvious. But often, “leadership” is one of those words that is thrown around by people who haven’t given much thought to what it looks like in action. According to McBean, good business leadership begins with defining the destination and direction of your company and deciding how the business should look and operate when it arrives. But it doesn’t stop there. It also involves developing and continuously improving on a set of skills in order to move your business from where it is today to where you want it to be tomorrow.
“What’s important to understand is without effective leadership your managers or employees have no idea what is important to the owner, what to manage, or what success and failure look like,” notes McBean. “In other words, in order to have effective employees, your business first has to have effective leadership, which has to include defining success and failure based on the eventual destination. Another important aspect of being a good leader is developing a company culture that’s expectations-based, and rewards those who meet and exceed those expectations. The good news about leadership is that the most important aspects can be learned, and it’s essential that owners do so.”
Control is the owner’s management reality. If you don’t control your company by defining key tasks and dictating how they must be handled, and “inspect what you expect,” then you don’t truly “own” the business because all you are is a spectator watching others play with your money.
“There are two overriding or macro concepts successful owners understand over their unsuccessful competitors,” explains McBean. “First, great procedures and processes need controls, and these in turn create great employees. This happens because procedures and processes operate the business, and employees operate the processes. This is one of those business basics that owners must understand to be successful.
“Secondly, don’t stop at pointing out what should be done and how. Also clearly state and emphasize that there will be consequences when standard operating procedures and processes aren’t followed. If you don’t do this, you’ll be ‘leading’ a group of individuals who follow their own rules and judgment, rather than a cohesive company working toward a common goal. Once again, this is one of those business basics owners can’t ignore.”
Were you surprised because this fact didn’t instruct you to first protect your company’s sales, profits, and growth? If so, you’re not alone. But the truth is, assets — which include both tangible and intangible assets — are what power sales, profits, and growth.
Usually, owners and soon-to-be owners understand the need for insurance on assets like their buildings and equipment. In fact, bankers insist on insuring specific assets they lend money on like facilities, equipment, and sometimes even insurance on an owner’s life. However, successful owners don’t stop at protecting obvious assets. They understand the importance of every asset, because assets represent invested cash, which should be managed to produce exceptional and maximized profits.
“Ignore this business fact and your company will underperform – if it can even survive the continual asset write-offs and write-downs, customer abandonment, and employee indifference,” says McBean. “I believe protecting both tangible and intangible assets to be one of the most underrated and underappreciated ownership issues today, and, if mismanaged, can be one of the most damaging. The key is to understand what all of your company’s assets are, and then guard them closely and work to maximize the profits they represent. Because if you don’t, they will haunt your business and cause financial pain when you least expect it, or want it.”
Nobody knows what tomorrow, next week, or next year will bring for your business. But you can make educated guesses based on the most current, accurate information available as well as your own past experiences, and this should be an ongoing process. Effective planning, McBean asserts, is a mix of science (gathering pertinent information) and art (taking that information and turning it into a plan that will move your business from “here” to “there” over a specific time period).
“Being able to plan better than your competitors can give you a significant competitive edge in the market,” he adds. “Ford Motor Company is a great example. In 2008 and 2009, its competitors, GM and Chrysler, ran out of cash and needed taxpayer bailouts to avoid bankruptcy. But not Ford. Years prior to the credit crunch, Ford began to restructure its debt and raised billions as it continually added to cash reserves. Was this luck or good planning? Industry insiders will say good planning. The point is Ford knew, as you should, that planning is important because it focuses owners on what’s important and it prepares them for what lies ahead.”
Maybe working to market and advertise your product isn’t your cup of tea. Or maybe you believe your product is so great that it should speak for itself. If so, too bad — you’re going to have to do it anyway. The bottom line is, if people don’t know about your product, you won’t be successful.
“New business owners especially are nervous about marketing because money is already so tight at this stage,” acknowledges McBean. “But again, if marketing isn’t done, very little good will happen. You have to make the necessary effort to connect consumers to your company. And when you do, you’ll begin to see marketing as the investment it actually is, rather than the expense that less successful competitors think it is.”
Every company has competitors, and if it doesn’t and it’s successful, it soon will. Successful owners know they have to fight not only to win market share but to retain it as well. That’s why McBean insists that you must develop a warrior mentality and maintain it for as long as you’re at the head of your business.
“That’s because selling and sales in any industry is serious business,” notes McBean. “It’s take or be taken from. If that isn’t a business war zone, then I don’t know what is. In other words, in order to be successful and remain that way, you have to continually focus on the market, react to it, and fight for what you believe should be yours. If you don’t, your competition will win the war. The point being great marketing has to be followed up by having your company ‘on its game’ in order to capture every customer your marketing attracts.”
Yes, of course you need to know the inner workings and nuances of your particular industry if you want to be successful. But you also need to understand the various aspects of business as it is more broadly defined, such as accounting, finance, business law, personnel issues, and more, and how all of these impact each other and the decisions you make.
“Having tunnel or limited vision as far as business knowledge is concerned is akin to dropping out of high school,” says McBean. “In doing so, you limit your possibilities for success and how great your success could be. But at the end of the day, what is most important is not how much you know, but what you know and what you do with that knowledge. For example, it’s important to know what’s going on in your market, but it is just as important to know what to do with that information and how you can translate it into more sales and gross and net profits — something that can’t be done with limited business knowledge. And remember, it’s an owner’s responsibility to make sure what you’re learning is correct and relevant.”
“Ultimately, I don’t believe that any entrepreneur can succeed — or at least reach his or her full potential — without knowing, understanding, and applying these seven Facts of Business Life,” concludes McBean. “It’s equally important to understand how these facts are interrelated.
“For instance, being able to develop strategic plans or market your product will mean little if you don’t have a good grasp of business in general,” he concludes. “But I promise, if you commit yourself to understanding these facts while being prepared for their implementation to change as your business goes through its inevitable life cycle, you’ll be creating a best-odds scenario for success.”