My family has just relocated to Southern Utah. Being new to the area I don't really know anyone yet. I want to build my business using the hanging out formula. I'm thinking about joining a BNI chapter. If I join, how can I provide referrals to the group when I don't yet know anyone in the area?
Think of this new community of yours as your new garden. You seek a particular harvest (clients who will use your product or service, thereby generating revenue). It's never easy being the new "sprout" in the garden. But it's also a most exciting and wonderful position to be in for it positions you for incredible possibilities for growth and contribution.
The first step is to find networking opportunities. You'll find these in abundance at chambers of commerce mixers, business publication events, business open houses, ribbon cuttings and business association mixers. Look in the local business journal, or just Google those terms for your area to find such organizations and events.
As discussed in Hanging Out For a Living, attend as a guest but show up as a host.
Invite those you meet at the event, who you want to get to know better, to hang out for coffee (or, being that you're now in Utah, tea or soda) and complete the referral profile with each person. Allow them to ask about your business. By being interested, you will be interesting.
Once you've gotten familiar with these organizations, choose a couple to participate in regularly. It's difficult to effectively participate in more than two or three networking organizations, so only stick with those that feel right for you. Allow yourself the time to participate, contribute, and for people to get to know you before making any final decisions.
Realistically, this will process will take a couple of months or more. The more events you can attend at each organization, the more familiar you'll become to the organization. Familiarity will make it easier to meet more people.
Once you've established yourself as a familiar face within those networking environments, you're now ready to find your BNI chapter. Visit each one in the area and hang out with some of the members. Complete the referral profile with each person you hang out with (BNI members use the GAINS profile, so they'll already be up to speed with this process).
Once you've visited those chapters, and you've identified those which have an opening for your business classification, make your choice as to which one you're going to join.
Hang out with each member of that chapter and complete the GAINS profile or the referral profile. As you discover who their eggs, geese and granny geese are, you will also learn how to help them expand their networks. BNI members tend to focus on referring customers (golden eggs). So you'll need to educate them about the value of introductions to geese and granny geese.
Finally, ADD VALUE. We add value by introducing others to those who can even more effectively help them expand their networks. This means inviting them to the networking events you've been attending. Introducing them to those who might qualify as their golden eggs, geese and granny geese.
Following these steps will not only grow your network and position you to be introduced to those people, organizations and events you seek, but will make you an extremely valuable member of your BNI chapter as well. In time, you will be able to provide "customer referrals" (golden eggs) to the group. However, introductions to geese and granny geese, as well as networking opportunities, will prove much more valuable as they become sources of clients in themselves.
Before joining a referral group, position yourself to add value. The easiest way to add value to your new group is to be a connector. By following the steps outlined here (and explained in detail in Hanging Out For a Living), you'll quickly become the person who knows everyone! Remember to have fun in this journey, Julie, and I promise you won't be the new sprout in the garden for long.
As a reader of Hanging Out For a Living you know that Oscar is, in fact, the richest man in Babylon, transported through time by quantum-physical, cosmic forces. I've made many valuable discoveries through reading and listening. The mention of the book, The Richest Man in Babylon, in my story (as well as the works of one of my favorite authors, Og Mandino) was, in part, to inspire my readers to seek out and discover those works.
Today I discovered that The Richest Man In Babylon is now in the public domain and can be downloaded for free here. One of my great regrets is that I did not discover the book "The Richest Man in Babylon" until I was in my late 30s or 40s. If I had discovered that book at the age of 15, I believe my life would have turned out much differently. Instead, I discovered pot. Instead of paying myself first, I paid the high school dealer and ultimately dropped out of school. Fortunately, Joe Spelleri (who I called Pop and who is the real-life inspiration for the character, Oscar) took me under his wing and prevented me from going too far in that very bad direction.
All-in-all, I think I still turned out OK, but had I discovered that book as a teen I may have avoided a very costly and time-consuming detour. If you haven't read The Richest Man in Babylon, I encourage you to do so. If you have teens or pre-teens, I beg you to expose them this classic (and Og Mandino's books as well). They may not read it or apply it, but at least they will have been given the chance.
The Hanging Out For a Living audiobook is now available for purchase as a digital download! It will be offered to the general public on Tuesday, April 21 for $35.00. In order to test that everything is working correctly, or the next 24 hours you may download the audiobook package for $10. The physical version is scheduled to arrive this Friday and will be released as an MP3 on a very cool USB drive!
Oscar is still waiting for your questions. Don't be shy. You can't learn everything by reading a book (or by writing one). What challenges are you having in applying the referral action plan? Oscar wants to know. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This week begins an experiment in making those I hang out with better than they would have been before we met. I'll be posting a report here on the blog, Facebook and LinkedIn recognizing those I hang out with (hopefully the same day).
What if, every time you hung out with someone, you posted a positive message about the experience highlighting what you learned about them and their business? How would you feel if your business was promoted in the same way by those you hang out with?
Let's start something! Tomorrow I have two hang outs. I look forward to delivering a report!
After Hanging Out For a Living was published by Larry Czerownka in March of this year, someone told Mark, "You have to make this into an audiobook!". Unfortunately for him, sometimes Mark has trouble saying "no" to a good idea, even if the cost of pursuing it makes it a bad idea.
After taking 4 1/2 year detour of writing, re-writing, editing, re-editing, agonizing and self doubt, Mark offered the book to world and thought he was done. Then some schmuck comes along and plants the audiobook idea in his head. In April of this year Mark began work on the audiobook, another eight months of distraction from his business and his life!
The entire thing was recorded in his bedroom closet. I'm a big guy, so between Tyler, Mark and myself, it got pretty crowded in there! Pretty amazing, though, that the entire work was produced in a bedroom closet with nothing but a Blue Nessie mic, 13" MacBook Pro and WavePad software.
The audiobook was delivered to the publisher on December 9, but being that the holidays are upon us it will not be available until after the first of the year. In the meantime, you can listen to a short clip below. This is the end of Chapter Ten, in the section of the book called "What Do I Look Like, the Parking Ticket Fairy?", where Tyler has just completed his first attempt at hanging out with potential networking partners (instead of trying to sell them), resulting in a sale. He arrives back at his car to discover a parking ticket on the windshield. I decide to make an appearance but am a bit annoyed with the kid for his shabby treatment of my home, the teapot. Then he has the gall to ask me to "fix" his ticket! As you will hear, I give the kid a much needed reality check. Enjoy!
It's been an interesting Summer, much of which has been spent sorting out the direction I want my life, and my message, to go. A mid-life crisis of sorts (I did turn 52 this past July, so it's probably time I had one of those).
Much of this crisis is dealing with sociological and technical changes that confront my core values and beliefs. I'm all for technology that can (and does) serve people, enhances the quality of life and evens the playing field for all, regardless of economic, social, or cultural status. However, I'm adamantly against the trend of people being forced to serve technology, being called to attention 24/7 by buzzes and rings, the temptation to voice an uninformed opinion any time a sensational headline presses an emotional button that is disconnected from reason.
Yet here I am, using that very technology to write this blog. Is it serving me, helping me to spread the message of relational reciprocity, or is it misleading me, pulling me into the cyber world of self appointed, self-important, self-obsessed voices who's combined clamoring for attention accomplishes nothing but to drown each other out?
As Oscar says " A crisis is a terrible thing to waste". Of course, Oscar! Oscar has the answers and therefore I've called upon Oscar to "be" the answer.
Going forward this blog will called "Conversations With Oscar". Along with Oscar, it is you dear readers of the book and this blog, who will create it's content.
Now that you've read the book we (Tyler, Oscar, and myself) expect that you've been putting the lessons to work. Have you created your referral action plan? Have you come up with your one-sentence response to the question "What do you do?". Have you made up your golden eggs? Have you identified your geese and granny geese? Are you attending, and serving, networking events. Are you consistently hanging out in service to others? If so, you probably have questions or challenges.
I've asked Oscar if he would be willing to occasionally interrupt his retirement to answer those questions. He has enthusiastically agreed, provided that he doesn't have to come out of the teapot to mentor any more shlubs who need his help. (And before you ask, although Tyler will be succeeding Oscar, he doesn't currently have time to engage in the blog. He's too busy building his Slarrefer Mutual business and trying to keep his numbers up at work).
Oscar informs me that he's gotten himself one of "those gizmos" that does that "googling stuff" and he'd be happy to spend some time each week to answer an occasional question related to the message in Hanging Out For a Living, or about networking and strategic relationship building in general, from the comfort of his library/cigar den.
Have you finished the book? Do you have a question for Oscar? If so, you may ask him directly by sending it here. He's just lit one up and is now awaiting your questions.
Recently a visitor to my mastermind networking group enthusiastically stated she had a referral for me. A couple of days later I received an e-mail from her to both myself and the person she was referring. The e-mail stated that we need to meet each other but she gave no contact information other than the visible e-mail address for this person. I hit "reply to all" and expressed my interest in meeting this gentleman and included my phone number. I didn't hear back from him. After about a week I contacted this gal to let her know I didn't her back from this referral. She stated she would reach out to him again. As of this writing I have not heard back from either of them.
This is a common challenge with novice networkers. They want to appear to be engaged in the referral process but haven't the know-how or relational capital to actually consummate an introduction.
In a few days Hanging Out For a Living will be offered to the world. The intention of the book is to eliminate for it's readers the years I spent trying to figure out how to build a network that would nurture my business. Until now there's been two ways to master the art of networking. Spend years of trial and error until you figure it out (my path) or be blessed with a parent or mentor who had mastered the art and passes it on to you. It's my sincere hope that within the pages of Hanging Out For a Living you will find a much quicker alternative, a simple formula the codifies the art of building a business by referral in a way that any kid can master.
Although great care went into providing as much detail as possible about how to build a strategic business network, there's no way to cover it all in two-hundred pages. Therefore I'll be counting on the blog to fill in the blanks and I'll be counting on you and your comments to help inform me as to what blanks need filling.
Conversations with Oscar
Oscar is the ancient master who resides in the teapot.
Although he can be little rough around the edges, Oscar is happy to answer your questions and address your challenges regarding networking, strategic relationship building and other lessons he shares with Tyler in Hanging Out For a Living. You may submit your questions here. However, he is a little sensitive about his age (he was born Dec 4, 587 BC) and his weight (though he carries it well), so watch it!
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