Learning to network from Ivan Misner


I was at an event today Organised by Right selection in Dubai. The modern guru of networking, Ivan Misner was more than amazing. He shared such simple but effective methods of networking and the importance it has in modern business. He is truly the father of modern networking, he is also a best selling author and the founder of the world’s largest networking Organisation BNI.

He explained that our social capital is the single most effective marketing tool in business. He further shared that in surveys conducted amongst businesses, 91.4% attributed networking to playing a key role in their success. He spoke of how this then needs to be the cornerstone of management education and the essential tool for any business.

Misner explained the blend between emotional quotient and intelligence and how contacts have to be converted into connections. He made a clear distinction between mindset and skill set and the role your ‘soft skills’ really play as a success catalyst.

I particulalry loved the analogy of The Butterfly Effect. He explained a scientific phenomenon where the constant flapping of a butterflies wings leads to a series of chain reaction which are unconnected and causes weather change. How a simple act can precipitate as an unknown domino effect into greater things. It was the serendipity concept taken to the next level.

He highlighted the concept with a story starting with him on necker island and meeting Richard Branson, then taking us through a flashback of related incidents which led to him to that moment.

He explained this further by explaining that we need to know out life mission and constantly evaluate the things we do against that as a beacon. When an opportunity arises, to question “Is this my mission” and say a resounding yes to any opportunity that arises towards that. “Follow the ripple” was a great catch phrase that summed that philosophy. See where the ripple leads you and see if its closer to your mission. It’s about weighing events and seeing if they are a distraction or an opportunity.

The referral process and networking he broke into a formula called VCP which stood for Visibility, Credibility and Profitability. They are a 3 step formula to convert contacts to connections and onwards to business. Through visibility you get people to know you and be familiar with you, Credibility is built as your reputation and enhances your image and trust by walking the talk , profitability comes after that through an ongoing reciprocal referral. He explained how its not a sales process but building connections and how our mindset should be to not just sell when we meet people, but also learn about them and a desire to buy their services.

These simple distinctions and analogies cleared a lot of misconceptions on what Networking is. It’s a process of farming and not hunting is what he gently reminded the room which was bursting at the seams with over 600 business leaders.

He shared insights on how men and women networked in different styles. This helped us understand the difference of being transactional versus relationship oriented. He shared ideas and techniques of networking which encompassed even simple methods of how we stand at events and how to have an open stance to invite visitors into the discussion.

He then explained a 12x12x12 rule where you are aware of the impression you make from 12 feet away. This is the way you dress, how professional you come across. Then from 12 inches away, which is what you say, how positive you are and then the first 12 words you say. This is also your elevator pitch, your USP. I loved the eyebrow test for your USP. He said when you say what you do, does the other persons eyebrows arch in excitement and do they “oh” or do you frown and wonder what the hell you are saying.

He explained then the stream of your influence and how many networks you have. This covered your casual contacts, professional associations and knowledge groups, your strong contacts (like BNI) and your online networks. What was wonderful was he explained how important the online contacts were even though he is the founder of BNI.

He ended explaining again the givers gain which is the same as the law of reciprocity and also “what goes around, comes around”. He egged everyone to help people out, build friendships and constantly build emotional intelligence.

The session was an eye opener with its simple fundamentals and for business like mine where references and word of mouth is our single largest marketing tool, today was a lesson for life!

I strongly recommend all his books!

I tried to capture the complete session through sketches and doodles. Hope this will help highlight the concept further for those reading.









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