Bragging Buddy Selection and the 5 Deal Breakers

August 7, 2012

by Lee Abraham

As a Bragging Buddy it’s your job to help a prospect like, trust and want to do business with your Power Team. And in turn, it’s your Power Team partners’ job to be your Bragging Buddy.

Bragging Buddies don’t just magically appear. Successfully creating an ongoing stream of high quality referrals is the result of learning about each other as a person, as well as a business, and systematically implementing proactive referral creation activities that work.

Relationship Marketing

Regardless of the system or strategy, the driving force in any referral relationship is the relationship itself. With Bragging Buddies, the relationship must go beyond a solid foundation of someone you like, trust and whose product or service you feel good about promoting, to whether or not your networking partner is teachable and ultimately going to proactively and systematically reciprocate your referral creation activities.

All of these elements are deal breakers. Miss one and your results will suffer.

5 Deal Breakers

Being teachable and accountable for reciprocating your referral creation activity expands the scope of a Bragging Buddy relationship beyond typical expectations of a networking partner.

Your results depend on choosing the right person before investing your time and energy into building a Bragging Buddy relationship. To simplify the process of reviewing whether or not to approach a potential Bragging Buddy, ask yourself the following 5 questions.

  1. Like? Do I like this person and enjoy being around them?
  2. Trust? Do I trust this person and believe they will make me look good in the eyes of the consumer?
  3. Consumer Value? Do I believe this person’s product or service delivers a good value to the consumer?
  4. Teachable? Is this person teachable and interested in learning new tools and systems to take the guesswork out of referrals?
  5. Reciprocate? Will this person be accountable to reciprocate my efforts and take action by following a structured word-of-mouth referral system to proactively promote my business?

All answers must be “yes” before you can reasonably expect to maximize your Bragging Buddy success and Power Team networking!


Race to Keep Pace – Business Networking Jump Start

March 6, 2010

 

The race to keep pace with society’s limited attention span is impacting more than just the book publishing industry.

Business networking is a perfect example. On a local level, go to a “Speed Networking” event where you have just a few short minutes to connect fact-to-face with a rapid fire parade of new prospects and potential referral partners. On the internet, the opportunity to build a personal brand with social media in virtually any industry has every hot blooded entrepreneur racing to create visibility online with more people in less time and as a result, make more money.  

As a business networker, our goal is to create referrals for our networking partners, in turn, they find business for us. Clearly, the most effective way to motivate someone to become a “Bragging Buddy” who tells other people why they should like, trust and do business with you, is to first send money making referrals to them.

But as the world spins faster and we seem to have less time to do more and more, being efficient is just as important as being effective. Got a pen and paper? Here is a powerful, yet deceptively simple tool to create business for someone you’ve just met, as well as your network of referral partners,  in less than a minute. Ask the following Trigger Question at networking events, chamber mixers, online messaging or anywhere else you interact with other business people: “How can I help find the type of customers you are looking for?”

This is a simple twist on the age old, direct question “How can I help you?” that cuts to the core of referral networking. The payoff is a result of active listening and recognizing which people and business categories in your network also serve the desired Target Market. Whenever there is a Target Market match, your networking partner is a potential Golden Goose referral source for this new contact, and vice versa. 

Proceed with caution. This Trigger Question is a powerful tool that will jump start your business networking results and create new referral opportunities. Pause for a moment once you’ve found a Target Market match. Take time to learn more about your new contact before sending business in their direction. Protecting your good name is a priority that cannot fall victim to the limited attention span syndrome.


Networking Story of the Week: “Gifts of Gratitude”

September 6, 2009

by Lee Abraham

Jenifer Anseth – M.R. Designs & Gifts: Commercial Furniture and a Grand Opening Two-fer

“I have a Power Team partner who is in Commercial Furniture Sales and after he finishes furnishing an office he likes to send one of our Gift Baskets for the office’s Grand Opening. From my standpoint, he not only does something to promote his company, but he creates an in for me with the new company.

He also promotes me to the other sales people who he works with for their Grand Openings and a different way to show client appreciation. I can’t begin to tell you how many great referrals he has given me!”

AZ Gift Baskets

AZ Gift Baskets


Sudden Impact – Beyond Hot Referrals

April 10, 2009

by Lee Abraham

money-in-the-bank2jpgEveryone loves a hot referral. On the receiving end it’s called money in the bank… Ca-CHING! For the giver, it’s more of a feeling. A warm and fuzzy tingle you get every time your networking efforts help build the business of someone you like and trust. Not to mention, a networking partner who is helping build your business in return.  

Two words: “Givers Gain®!

Coined by Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI (Business Network Int’l), the world’s largest business network, Givers Gain® is BNI’s philosophy of helping others first and then benefiting in return.

That said, hot referrals are great for both the giver and receiver. And yeah, as a result, everybody around the networking table walks away viewing you with a little more Credibility. But if you really want to rock the house and lift the energy of every single person in the room, bring a Visitor to the meeting!

Inviting Visitors 101 – Invite Visitors to VISIT, not join your group

Obviously, the primary reason you invite visitors to your networking meeting is to grow the group. Even a group that is productive at its current size needs to have a steady flow of Visitors simply to cover the natural attrition of losing people due to relocation, downsizing, changing careers or not renewing membership for some other reason.

Plus, even Visitors who do not submit an application to join your network are likely to do business with someone in the group. Studies show each Visitor does an average of $2,500 with one or more people in the group whether they join or not. 

Most important: A Visitor brings fresh energy and even if the other members aren’t consciously aware of it, everyone becomes a bit more animated. visitor1During Open Networking at the start of the meeting, every Visitor is a potential customer for each member of the group. The sense of new opportunity impacts everyone in attendance. And as the person who invited the Visitor, your VCP skyrockets! 

In short, Visitors are the lifeblood of a weekly networking meeting. Your ability to attract Visitors to the meeting plays a major role in your VCP with the other members, and in turn, the benefit you get out of the group. 

What to Say

Good news! Everyone can be successful at bringing Visitors to the meeting. Keep it simple and you’ll do fine. Here are a few basic tips to increase your results: 

1) Avoid creating obstacles that get in the way of someone who might otherwise visit your meeting. Top of the list: suggesting they consider joining. It’s counterproductive.  All the suggestion does is trigger questions of “How much does it cost to join” and “What’s the commitment?” Not good for your Visitor to Invitation ratio!

Let me repeat: Invite Visitors to Visit, not Join your group.

Why? Less pressure and greater probability of success. Trust me, run a good meeting and it will sell itself. Your job is to get the Visitor to the meeting. If joining is a good idea, singerVisitors will see it on their own. 

2) When Inviting, sing the group’s praises, tell the potential Visitor about how great the networking group is for your business and that you would love for them to see how it works. 

3) Tell the prospect about other business categories and people in the group who would likely be a good connection based on Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

For example, if the prospect is a Home Inspector, they would be interested to meet the Realtor, Mortgage and Insurance person in the group. A Photographer would love to be introduced to your Florist, Caterer and Event Planner. Capiche? Click here for a post on Contact Spheres and Power Teams.

4) Ask the Visitor to bring a stack of business cards and be ready to connect with a room full of your networking partners, people who might become a source of referrals for them. 

5) When inviting let the prospect know that there is no cost or obligation to visit, other than maybe a room or meal charge if you have one. Most structured networking groups allow Visitors to sit in on two meetings and then ask the newbie to either submit an application for membership or quit freeloading. 

More Than What You Say, It’s How You Say It

Best practice: be excited, show enthusiasm and speak from first hand experience. What do you enjoy most about the meeting? Talk about how your networking group has benefited you and your business. What business categories might be natural networking partners for the Visitor?

If you genuinely feel great about your group, the person you are talking with will feel it too. bull-by-the-hornsAnd like it or not, we make decisions based on emotion. Be smart. Tap into your positive feelings. Use your emotional energy to direct that quirky thing called “human nature” to your advantage.

I see the look of determination on your face. You are ready to take the bull by the horns and start inviting like never before. The problem? You aren’t sure who to talk to. Got it! Join us next time when we look into who you should invite to your networking meeting and why, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!


Sub Sandwich – More Bread, Any Way You Slice It

April 8, 2009

 

by Lee Abraham

 

Last time out we looked at the importance of making a commitment to attend your networking group’s weekly meeting. sandwichNot just to blindly follow rules, but to build strong, meaningful relationships with your networking partners that lead to giving and receiving an ongoing stream of money making referrals.

 

So what happens when you really can’t make the meeting? Glad you asked!

 

Basic Etiquette 106 – Have a substitute represent you at networking meetings you can’t attend.

 

The first benefit of having a “Sub” is obvious: it demonstrates your commitment to the group. In networking terms, having someone represent your business keeps your Visibility intact and moves you toward Credibility, showing your networking partners some of the people from your world.

 

So far, so good. But there’s more to having a productive Sub than just lining up a warm body sit in your chair. For starters, you want to have a Sub who makes you look good.

 

Remember when we focused on how everything you do or say factors into your Personal Brand with other people, including your networking partners? Understand that substitutes are an extension of you. What they do and say will contribute to where your networking partners place you in the VCP Process®.

So let’s put the pieces of the Sub puzzle together with a few important key points:.substitutes-2

1) Who should sub? Someone from your company is a great place to start. A co-worker, boss, employee or anyone else affiliated in some way with your business is an obvious choice. Other prime candidates include anyone who can speak from first hand experience about what a great person you are. 

2) Sub’s Goal: to help the other members of the group like and trust you by sharing the story of a compelling, first hand experience with you

Although counter intuitive, specific and detailed knowledge of your products and services is NOT necessary for an effective Sub. Sure, the ability to speak intelligently about your business is a good thing, but only a bonus. 

The most elusive and valuable element of the VCP Process® is the underlying emotion your networking partners bring to the table as your “Bragging Buddy” when talking to prospects on your behalf and creating referrals for you. Having a Sub who can speak first hand about what makes YOU special is the best type of Sub you can find!

3) No Compete: Be sure your Sub does not promote anything that competes with a current member of your group.

4) Prep Work: Make sure your Sub is well prepared by explaining the two parts of the meeting when they will need to speak: strategy-1Giving your Sales Force Update to the group and Passing Referrals to other members.

Be specific in prepping your Sub. Outline how to tell the group about the type of referral you are looking for this week and encourage the Sub to share their own, warm and fuzzy first hand experience with you.

As for referrals, give your Sub any Referral Slips you have for the week to pass to your networking partners in your absence. This is much more powerful than the Sub simply showing up and saying they don’t know if you had any referrals this week or not.

Bonus Points: A Super Sub passes a money making referral of their own, either as a customer, or for someone they know who can do business with one of your networking partners.

5) Plan Ahead: Arrange for a Substitute BEFORE YOU NEED IT! Don’t wait until the last minute to line up a Sub, particularly when you know in advance that you will not be able to make a meeting. There are very few good excuses to not have a Sub. Yes, emergencies pop up at the last minute and sometimes it is truly impossible to make the meeting or find a Sub on short notice. No worries. It happens. 

But as the old cliché says, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” music-gearAnd perhaps more than any other way to go beyond simply planning, is to create your own success by showing commitment to your networking group and having a great Sub represent at you at a meeting you can’t attend. 

Want to jump start your VCP? Join us next time when we step onstage and under the bright lights as a referral rock star, successfully inviting Visitors and cranking up the volume at your networking meeting, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!


Weekly Meeting: Networking or Not Working?

April 6, 2009

 

ryan-seacrestby Lee Abraham

 

I’ll admit it. It took me a while to figure out this networking thing. Especially the value of meeting with other people face to face. Here’s the story. Way back in the mid ‘90s I was invited to join BNI (Business Network Int’l), a structured networking group to help grow my business. I was intrigued. And then I was told the group got together once a week to pass referrals.

 

At the time, I owned a Real Estate Appraisal company in Las Vegas and was busier than Ryan Seacrest on American Idol’s “Elimination Night.” Let’s just say I had my hands full with a few difficult and colorful authority figures (Loan Officers instead of judges) and other peoples’ desperate situations (Borrowers rather than contestants).

 

And although I had more work than I knew what to do with, I was changing my Target Market from the oppressive management style (“hit” the value or we stop sending you work) of the Banks and Mortgages Companies to the more intellectually rewarding practice of appraising for Lawyers and serving as an Expert Witness on a variety of Real Estate related lawsuits.

 

Bottom line: I needed help reaching out to the legal community to expand my client base. And the person who invited me to join BNI was one of the top Real Estate Attorneys in town. Can you say: mixed emotions? Yes, I liked the idea of networking, and I really wanted to build a relationship with this Attorney, but it was the once a week meeting that rubbed me the wrong way.

 

Admission of guilt: I didn’t see the point of getting together so often. After all, if I had something to say to someone in the group I could just call ‘em up and take care of business… right? Wrong! Motivated but under duress, I went through the motions. Guess what? The emotions followed. And so did the referrals!

 

Basic Etiquette 105 – Attendance at weekly networking meetings are critical to benefiting from a structured networking group.

 

Let’s face it, a lot of people expect to join a networking group, show up, tell the members about their business and then sit back and watch the referrals fly in. biz-meeting-5Sorry to burst your bubble, but success in networking requires time and energy. Why? Networking is all about relationships. Plain and simple. And nothing builds a relationship better than face to face interaction.

 

VCP Process®

 

Your first goal in a structured networking group is to achieve Visibility: people know who you are and what you do. From Visibility you reach for Credibility: people know you are good at what you do. And finally, the ultimate goal is Profitability: people send you business because they like you, trust you, and know you will make them look good in the eyes of the person they referred to you.

 

Coined by Dr. Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, these three stages of relationships among networking partners is known as the VCP Process®.

 

Trust me, you will not achieve VCP with your networking partners by sitting in your office on the phone and internet all day. If you are serious about building a referral network to grow your business, you need to invest time and develop relationships getting to know, like and trust your networking partners. Oh yeah, they need to get to know, like and trust you as well!

 

Don’t have the time? Let me ask you this. If your very best client asked to meet with you once a week as a prerequisite to sending you an ongoing stream of business would you find time? I’m betting you would. Write this down: Treat your networking group as your best client and it will be!

 

Build a Bridge, Get Over It

 

OK fine, I hear you. You just can’t make every single meeting.bridge From vacations and business trips to your child’s first Piano Recital and medical emergencies, life happens. Hey, get over it! Everybody’s got life happening, not just you. Like a wise man once said, “It’s not what happens in life that makes you successful, it’s how you respond.”

 

Let’s cut to the chase. We are talking about priorities and levels of commitment. Nobody expects you to be at every single meeting. That would be unrealistic. The answer? Find out next time with our discussion of having a substitute represent you at meetings you can’t attend, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow me on Twitter!


Show Up, Look Good and Be Sharp – 3 Keys to Success at Networking Meetings (part 2)

April 3, 2009

 

diversity-1by Lee Abraham

 

Diversity is good. Particularly in networking. The wider variety of business categories, as well as age, ethnicity and just about any other demographic variable, including a balance of both men and women, the stronger the network and further its reach.

 

Other factors, including dress and appearance, require a delicate balance between diversity and minimum standards. And therein lies the rub. Why? Opinions on dress and appearance, particularly our own, can be very subjective.

 

Basic Etiquette 103 – Dress to Meet or Exceed Expectations For Your Occupation.

 

The operative phrase is “expectations for your occupation.”

 

Someone representing a Carpet Cleaning business is perfectly professional in a nice pair of shorts and short sleeve, company logo shirt. On the other hand, an Attorney or CPA is expected to look like a “business” professional, decked out in a suit or some other, equally natty attire.

 

Should be simple, right? Listen. Anyone who has been involved in structured networking for any length of time can tell you a story about the slob who used to be in their group, and how that person never ceased to amaze with a sloppy appearance and counterproductive self image.

 

Do yourself and the rest of the group a favor: do not be that person. decisionLet’s face it, you only have one chance to make a good first impression and you never know who you will meet at a networking meeting!

Rationalizing a too causal look with “Well, everybody there already knows me,” or “I don’t have any other appointments after the meeting, so why bother?” is the teetering point of good and bad decision making. Unlike too many things in life and business, you have control over what you wear and how you look. Take advantage of the opportunity. Don’t be lazy, be sharp!

Basic Etiquette 104 – Be Prepared to Train Your Sales Force

Getting the most out of a networking meeting is in a large part due to preparation. Some of the essentials are your business cards and any promotional material you’d like to use. 

Most importantly though, be prepared to clearly train the rest of the group, your “Sales Force,” to recognize your Target Market for this week and what to tell the prospect on your behalf. 

Waiting for the last minute to figure out your weekly Target Market and how to quickly train the group to find it for you, begs repeating of an old cliché: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” ‘Nuff said!

next-time-6Sure, there are many other details you can prepare each week to maximize your results from structured networking. We are going to look at two of the most important, regular attendance, as well as finding, training and rewarding a substitute “Bragging Buddy” to fill in at meetings you can’t attend, next time, when our adventure in networking continues… Follow Me on Twitter!