Networking Events Are a Waste of Time

…UNLESS you have learned the collaborative etiquette of networking!Hmmm. Got your attention didn’t I? I suppose all networking is good, however, what brings the most productive long-term benefit to both parties is the manner in which the relationship is built.What is the collaborative etiquette of networking?Collaborative, n.
1. The act of working together; united labor.
2. To work together, especially in a joint intellectual effort.Etiquette, n.
1. The practices and forms prescribed by social convention or by authority.
2. The customs or rules governing behavior regarded as correct or acceptable in social or official lifeSo, collaborative etiquette is: The act of working together within the practice of mutually beneficial social convention. Put another way, it is networking in a way that subscribes to the idea that networking is about using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals… expecting nothing in return. Collaborative etiquette is the lubrication that makes things run smoothly. Without it, you may permanently alienate others.And yet another way… it’s practicing the “Go Giver” mentality not the “give to get” mentality. In other words, the “give to get” mentality is giving with an expectation of receiving something from the person you gave to. Not good. This is a set-up for disappointment because that is not the way it usually works. When you give it “always” comes back to you but not always from the person you contributed to.Keep your expectations in check. Remember, unfulfilled expectations always cause problems. If you don’t get what you expect, you get disappointed. Disappointment leads to resentment, frustration and upsets. Having expectations is a luxury you cannot afford in networking.I am disgusted with the “meet” market mass hysteria that seems to follow very large networking events. And… nothing irritates me more than having a “Networking Nancy” or a “Networking Ned” shove a business card in hand and say, “What do you do?” and before I can answer, they interrupt with their unsolicited pitch without waiting to see if I care. Like they care? It doesn’t feel like it. Like I care? Hardly. No one cares about your opportunity until they know how much you care.Hysteria, n.
1. Behavior exhibiting excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear or panic.Fear or panic, eh? Seems to me to fit the profile of a networking newbie or someone who flat doesn’t understand the collaborative etiquette of networking. The fear may come from their concern about business not being so good or that they feel they must work really hard to meet as many people as they can to help them or they will fail. They don’t know that in networking we are there to stir up a collaborative relationship where we truly help each other.Building trust comes way before giving a sales spiel.Collaboration is the key to increased networking efficiency. Did you get that? Collaboration! That means to work together! Collaboration is a recursive process where two or more people or organizations work together toward common goals. There is another key… working together!IMPORTANT: Networking is about helping each other. It is a two-way street!Before me stands someone who is desperate to get business – coming from fear – rather than take the time it takes to develop a long-lasting relationship.Desperate, n.
1. One desperate or hopeless.Another irritant is having an MLMer (multi-level or network marketer) try to recruit me into their fold without telling me hardly anything about their scheme where I can make $20,000 a month. It seems to me that it should be this way: help someone understand and like the product by being a user of the product and much later… introduce them to a way that they might make a few extra dollars in their spare time. I know how it works because at one point in my life I was a very successful MLMer. Networking events are not about recruiting. If you are someone who does this, you will soon get a reputation as a networking pest and your networking opportunities will soon evaporate.Sometimes I want to scream, “Stop trying to sell me. I don’t even know you and you certainly have no clue about what my motivation is for being here!”My friend, Jim Rohn once said, “The more you know, the less you need to say.” Sometimes is is wise to just keep your mouth shut and let the other person blab on about whatever it is they do. Then excuse yourself politely and move on to meet someone else.Be clear. Networking is using your creative talents to help others achieve their goals as you cultivate a network of people strategically positioned to support you in your goals… expecting nothing in return! And if a business lead grows from conversation with another networker that is the bonus! Not the intent.At a networking event what comes first?1. Small TalkNo serious banter about “your” business. It is get acquainted time. Introduce yourself then ask, “What do you do?” Show an interest in others. Establish eye contact, then raise a non-threatening small-talk topic. The purpose of small talk is to break the ice, build rapport and gain trust. Do you both “click?” Without rapport, there is no foundation to develop a long-term relationship. Offer a firm handshake. Wear a name tag on the right side of your jacket or dress.”You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people, than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you.” – Dale CarnegieObserve and listen. Listening is the heart of communication. Target the person’s interests. Be mentally engaged in what the other person is saying. Interact with positive observations and questions about how you might help them. Look for a keyword or phrase that is in some way related to the topic that you would like to discuss with this person. Ask relevant questions and avoid wasting his or her time. Determine what the person believes he or she needs related to you, then link yourself to their needs. Offer to help if you think you can contribute. Never be afraid to take initiative. Be pleasant, respectful and polite.Avoid any type of sarcasm or negativity. Offer no, “Business is bad” talk. Keep the conversation positive. Insert positive reinforcement into the conversation. Make good eye contact. Be relaxed and confident. Respect their personal space. Easy on the business cards (see #2). Never be afraid to ask for help. Most people are flattered to be asked for assistance, tips and advice.”Be careful of receiving counsel from unproductive or toxic people-they don’t follow their own advice. Healthy people will not join in your sorrow-they will show you a brighter vision!” – Steven ConnorMaintain focus on the one you are talking with. It is rude to be looking over their shoulder to see who else would be your next likely victim. It should only take a few minutes of small talk to help you make the right choice about whether this is someone you want to follow-up with.”People who listen well are so memorable because they make us feel special when we are face-to-face. These smart and savvy communicators do not allow themselves to be distracted by phones, buzzing text messages or Blackberrys. They don’t walk into a party, a meeting or a memorial wearing a Bluetooth. They are “in the moment” not waiting for someone, anyone — to call, text, IM or twitter in the next moment. And we love them for that.” – Susan RoAnePostpone further discussions if the person wants to get down to business right away and there are others present. Exchanges business cards and set an appointment to consider the matter in greater depth. You must carefully consider who you choose to connect with. For the people you do reject, show respect by offering alternatives. Perhaps someone else in your network could help them.2. Exchange Business Cards… MAYBE!I seldom offer my business card to someone I would rather not do business with. If they ask, I will oblige. Make business card exchanges meaningful. Only exchange cards with someone when it will be of benefit to both of you. “Hello, my name is Boring Bobby, have a card” doesn’t work.Demonstrate that you have common sense. Send the appropriate message to others in order to avoid misunderstandings and foster trust. If you want to pursue the relationship say so and follow up. If not say, “Please excuse me, I have enjoyed speaking with you.” Smile and move on.3. Don’t butt in!If you see several people talking and you would like to join them, approach with sensitivity. Stand quietly several feet away for a second or two. If there is a break in the conversation or if someone in the group happens to look your way — use your good judgment — and take a step forward and introduce yourself. If that doesn’t happen, exit immediately with “excuse me.” It should be clear that they choose not to invite anyone else into the conversation.4. Butt Out!There is always one Boring Bobby or Boring Betty at every large networking event. These are the people you want to get away from as soon as possible. Say, “I would like to grab a Pepsi. Feel free to mingle with others.” Or… offer to introduce them to someone else, then make the introductions and as they begin to chat with each other, politely excuse yourself. People like this are a challenge. Never feel obliged to suffer through their monotony at a networking event.5. Keep your word!Follow through on your promises. Never, I repeat, never offer anything unless you plan to follow through.6. Follow up! – PromptlyThink of creative ways to keep in touch. Thank people for leads, tips and ideas even if their suggestions don’t work out; your contacts will appreciate the follow-up. E-mail and a phone call are okay but a face-to-face connection with someone you want to know better is best. Practice appropriate persistence and be sensitive to time constraints.My guess would be that the biggest percentage of people who attend large networking events have had little, if any, training on how to network correctly. They are not even aware of the simple slip-ups that can cascade into full-blown avoidance by others in the network. They are thinking: “Sell, sell, sell.” Wrong!They mostly see it as an opportunity to collect business leads. By the way, working the room does not mean meeting as many people as you can and collecting the most business cards. A poor approach to networking can have a devastating effect however an effective approach using collaborative etiquette can open countless doors and opportunities.At a recent networking event I stopped at the name tag table and asked to speak with the person who was hosting the event. The young women behind the table immediately looked around the room, spotted the host and said, “Come with me. I’ll introduce you to her.” That’s class.Why is effective networking so important? Because networking isn’t just a great idea anymore; networking is an essential and long-term component of developing and maintaining long-term business relationships. The basics of effective networking are easy to learn, but as with most professional skills, they must be practiced and perfected in order to be effective.So… are we clear? Networking is NOT about selling or collecting business cards. It’s about building relationships. Always remember, successful networking is based on giving more than you take.Never assume that those within your network share your religious, political, or social beliefs. It is best to stay away from these topics.You would be wise to create a 5 to 10 second “elevator speech” for a large event. One that briefly describes what you do. At smaller events you will often be asked to introduce yourself and a 30-second connection (some call it an “elevator speech”) would be more appropriate.If you are unclear about what networking is about get help before you damage your reputation and become someone others avoid when they see you coming. (You know people like that, don’t you?) Don’t become one of them. Hire a coach. It is important to learn the ropes from someone who knows the ropes.The proper application of collaborative etiquette in networking will empower you to build and nurture your own network. Make a commitment to put these powerful guidelines into action and you’ll be attracting a vast number of new team members and business partners into your network. Put to use the guidelines of collaborative etiquette to your networking opportunities and before long the contacts will be coming to you, instead of the other way around.Commitment, n.
1 an agreement or pledge to do something in the future; the state or an instance of being obligated or emotionally impelledThe quality of relationships you build in networking are far superior to the quantity of friends you make.”These lasting, mutually beneficial business relationships begin with projecting an outstanding impression, but are sustained through trust and the investment of time and effort to help others.” – Aviva Shiff, co-founder of Spark Training & Coaching Associates

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The Rise of Mixed Martial Arts and the Fall of Boxing

When talking about the world’s fastest growing sport, Mixed Martial Arts, the topic of MMA vs. Boxing and which is more entertaining, always seems to find it’s way into the conversation. It’s a debate that strikes a nerve with purists of both sports, but fun to discuss.As a fan of both sports, I hate to see what the world of boxing has done to itself. Yes, most would point to Don King and the corruption that has gone hand in hand with the sport for decades, but the problem is even more than that. The problem is the fact that fans are getting more action, excitement, and entertainment value for their dollar compared to boxing.The eroding interest in boxing and it’s fan base starts with the lack of quality free fights being broadcast on television over the course of the year. In contrast, the UFC, which is MMA’s largest fight promotion has several free “fight nights” airing on free television that have title implications in the ranks. StrikeForce just made waves with the signing of the world’s best pound for pound fighter in Fedor Emelianenko. They will try to make “Fedor” a household name, powered by the fact that they have an ongoing deal with CBS for several free broadcasts a year.Unlike boxing, in MMA the sports biggest figures are all well known and followed, while boxing fans cling to thoughts of Oscar De La Hoya and Roy Jones Jr. Boxing has way too many belts and weight divisions to stay relevant to the masses. What average boxing fan can name all the belt holders at all the different weights? Not many I imagine. MMA has less weight classes, but truly dominate fighters that hold the belts.Unfortunately, the problem with today’s MMA landscape, is the feuding and showmanship that has gone on between rival organizations and their management teams. Obviously, the first to come to mind to most would be Dana White. Or “Diva White” as some like to refer to the man responsible for the resurgence of not only the UFC, but Mixed Martial Arts in general. It’s hard to knock a person responsible for putting MMA back on the map, but he seems to be at the core of some of the problems that have risen with the negotiations that have gone on to put on fights between different promotions. This not only causes a loss for the parties involved, but really for the fans that want to see these matchups of the worlds greatest fighters, but probably will never get to witness.It is my opinion though, that we as MMA fans should be thankful for Dana White’s ability along with the Fertitta brothers to launch the sport into the spotlight and continue to parlay that growth into a rabid fan base. I would love to see the boxing world get itself back on track with a great 2010 with the likes of Manny Pacquiao. This fighter embodies everything I ever loved about the sport. Skill, a fierce inner drive, heart, and guts. But as I write this article, the mega fight between Pacman and Floyd Mayweather Jr. is in peril due to blood testing issues.For the new year let’s hope as fans of combat sports, that boxing continues to build on the momentum they have entering the year, and that the “business as usual” mentality that has for so long plagued the sport will not ruin maybe the biggest fight of any type in history. And for the owners, CEO’s, and bean counters of Mixed Martial Arts’ biggest promotions, can’t we all just get along?

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8 Ways To Make Your New Business Idea Succeed

Research has shown that more than 90% of small businesses don’t succeed within the first five years of getting started. This includes both offline and online business, from flower shops in your local town to work at home entrepreneurs wanting to earn a living from the internet.So, how do you make your new business ideas succeed?1. Who is your ideal customer?Firstly, who is your ideal customer? This is crucial to the success of your new business idea. If you don’t know who you are selling to, how can you sell to them? For example, are they male or female, how old are they, where do they live and what is their income? The more you know about your prospective customers, the easier it will be for you to target your marketing messages to them.2. What do your customers want?People will buy what they want before they buy what they need. They buy with emotion and rationalise their choice with logic. Selling a ‘want’ is easier than selling a ‘need’. How can you turn your new business idea into something that your customers will want?3. Who are your competitors?You have to know how and where your prospective customers are currently buying the type of product or service that you intend to offer with your new business idea. You can’t ignore or copy what your competitors are doing and you need establish a reason why people should buy from you, rather than from somebody else.4. Can you reach your potential customers?It is important that you know that you can reach your target audience with your marketing messages before you start with a new business idea. Some specific niche markets appear very lucrative at first but end up being so difficult to reach and communicate to that success is almost impossible.5. Can you afford to get started?You do have to consider the cost for starting a new business idea. Your new business is going to require investment. You are going to have to spend some money on things like a website, marketing, training and other resources to help you. You need to carefully budget your outgoings and match them with your incomings.6. Is your new business idea scalable?As your new business idea becomes a reality and starts to grow, will you need more resources to help you? Are you able to use automated software or outsourcing that can do some of the work for you? As much as you say you will, t is not physically possible to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are the only person that can operate or manage your business, you have to adapt it so that you can scale it up using other resources.7. Are you willing to work hard?There is no such thing as a get rich quick business scheme. Starting a new business requires hard work and it does take time to build it up. You have to be passionate about your business and actually enjoy doing it. If you don’t, you may start to resent the hours and effort that you are putting in which may lead to you giving it all up.8. Are you willing to learn?If you were starting a new job working for somebody else, you would expect somebody to teach the job and show you what you needed to do. Your new business idea should not be any different as you will not know everything about all aspects of business. Take time to learn from those who have gone before you as you will be able to avoid mistakes and become profitable more quickly.

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