Networking Power Tips: Follow up – The Complete Recipe

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The majority of entrepreneurs and business readily admit that they don’t follow up. In fact, surveys have confirmed up to 90% of people don’t follow up after a networking interaction. Yet, without following up, the spark created by the conversation will wither and die. There are three key components to a pro-active approach in following up and each has a contribution to make to overall success.

1. Preparing for Follow Up Success.  In order to gain maximum return of your follow up strategy, it is possible and necessary for you to prepare some areas of your upcoming networking interaction. This will make it easier for you to manage and lead the relationship-building process. Review these tactics to ensure you are properly prepared for following up.
Prepare your attitude. Appreciating that others want to meet positive, enthusiastic people is a key ingredient to follow up success. Develop and maintain a positive attitude about meeting others. Be sincere about finding out more about them and actively pursue how you can be of service to them.
Clarify your focus. Continually clarify your focus about who you want to meet and how you can bring them value. This will be extremely helpful in knowing who to follow up with. It will also be useful in allowing others to be helpful to you in more ways.
Practice your communication. You can facilitate follow up by preparing and practicing different parts of a conversation. Have an effective positioning statement and review three questions you can ask others to stimulate conversation and immediately begin building the relationship.

2. Maximizing an Initial Contact. Every person you meet has the potential to help you. Your mission is to discover how, even if this is not always obvious during an initial conversation. It may be necessary to create the opportunity to meet again. Check the following techniques and see how you can create more follow up during your initial communication with others.
Have a follow-up plan. Presume from your first moment of contact that you will want to follow up with this person. As your conversation continues and a need or issue arises, you can use a piece of information gathered earlier in the discussion to create a follow up contact. Look for common issues: Many times a networking discussion will uncover issues or interests that are common to both parties. This is an excellent reason to suggest a follow up meeting to explore the topic in more depth.
Expand a point of view. We all have a point of view, especially on topics that are important to us. Discovering what your conversation partner feels strongly about will perhaps allow you to suggest a follow up meeting to find out even more.
Enjoyable conversation. Sometimes we meet others and there is a strong connection. Compatible personalities often develop a powerful synergy. When you feel this synergy, suggest a follow up meeting. No other reason is necessary.
Interest in product/service. We are all consumers. As the discussion progresses, you may develop an interest in the other person’s product or service. When this happens, a follow up meeting becomes a natural extension to the networking conversation.
Specific information. Every conversation contains opportunities to help others. You will often find that you may have information that can be helpful. Sharing this information or suggesting a follow up contact to pass it on are excellent strategies to meet again.
Offer help. Nothing has more impact than a concrete action. Watch and listen for the other person’s pain and passion. Then find a way to offer help in either area. Simply offering is powerful but actually contributing to others will almost guarantee a follow up contact.

3. Managing On-Going Contact. A follow up contact creates an excellent opportunity. It confirms that the other person has perceived a value in your initial contact, and sees a benefit to meeting or communicating with you again. This is the step in the relationship process that is mishandled by most sales and business professionals. When you create, or are offered a follow up contact, use the strategies listed below to make sure you maximize all the benefits possible from a pro-active approach.
Genuine appreciation. One of the most powerful ways to maximize a follow up contact is to demonstrate your sincere appreciation for the opportunity being offered by the other person. Too often we take for granted the precious gift of another person’s time. Make it a point to acknowledge how much you appreciate their investment.
First of many steps. Relationships take time to develop and nurture. They require an investment of time, effort and energy. This normally happens over an extended period of time. By seeing your current contact as part of an on-going process you will resist the temptation to push yourself onto the other person.
Sincere curiosity. There is nothing more flattering than someone who is sincerely curious. Actively demonstrating that you are interested in the other person is one of the most effective ways to build trust and solidify a relationship.
Outward focus. Many people mistakenly try to use follow up as an opportunity to find more ways to convince others about their product or service. Follow up is an active part of relationship-building. Make this step a meaningful component by becoming a better listener and asking more questions.
Value. Use every conversation to discover new areas of value, for both yourself and the other person. Once you have discovered an area of need or a source of concern, you have created an opportunity to bring value. Find a way to help them solve a specific problem or achieve particular objective. This is where you can demonstrate the difference in your character and make the relationship even stronger.
Next contact. Each meeting or communication with a contact is a precious and powerful vehicle. As you dialogue with others, evaluate the conversations to elicit information, needs and issues. You will discover that others will want to meet with you again. Use each contact as a stepping-stone to the next phase in the relationship process.

These three components work together to stimulate and support the relationship process. When they are done sequentially and concurrently they build trust, establish value and set the foundation for mutual contribution; the ultimate reward of this investment. Which of these areas do you need to improve in the 30 days to accelerate your networking results?

Michael Hughes is known as North Amerrica’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at

11 Ways to Develop Business at Social Events

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You’ve been invited to an event. It will include a number of friends and colleagues, along with their spouses. As well, you know there will be professionals from the business community, some of whom could well be prospects for your services.

We have all had occasion to attend a social function. As a business owner, you carry your business hat with you everywhere you go. After all, who knows where the next potential business opportunity will arise? It is always difficult to know how to handle this. Check out the tips below on how to manage a social event for best results:

1.Enjoy the experience. When you’re invited to a social function, focus on enjoying the evening. This is an opportunity to meet friends and enjoy life, so don’t expect to use this as an opportunity to directly promote business.

2. Develop relationships. Remember that every new contact, even in a social context, is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism, integrity and respect for others. Be on your best behavior as you enjoy the event.

3. What about business? Seek to develop relationships from a personal perspective. Stay away from business topics unless they evolve as a natural part of the conversation. At that point you can briefly discuss business and quickly move back to a social atmosphere.

4. Communicate effectively. Make your business communication more effective by having a short statement that identifies your target market, the top benefit of your product/service and the result of doing business with you.

5. When they want to talk business. If a conversation partner wants to move to a more serious business discussion while at a social event, suggest you get together after or the next day. This takes the pressure off and allows both of you to relax.

6. When you want to talk business. You will identify qualified prospects as part of your social contacts. Do not try to solidify a business relationship while at a social function. Rather, use this as an opportunity to develop the relationship and follow up later.

7. Creating a follow up opportunity. As the evening or event continues and your relationship develops, you will find that opportunities arise to suggest a follow up contact. You can then easily get or give a phone number and confirm a time.

8. Be pro-active. If a business opportunity does arise through your social atmosphere, don’t hesitate to follow up. Many successful business transactions have been the result of a social contact. Follow up within 48 hours for maximum benefit.

9. Don’t presume. One of the most common mistakes in following up after a social contact is to presume that the other person has agreed to buy. Reality is that she/he probably needs more information. Be prepared for this by linking back to your conversation and their interest before diving into a sales presentation.

10. Leverage personal contacts. The trust and rapport generated from a social contact can greatly enhance your business potential, but don’t expect that this will automatically lead you to doing business. be prepared to keep the relationship growing until the business component evolves as a natural extension.

11. The three secrets to leveraging a social contact :
• Make the conversation meaningful and memorable.
• Confirm the reason for following up.
• Re-connect within 24 hours

Remember we buy people first, ideas next and things last. Making your social experience more personal and your conversation more personable will always be a precursor to building your business and accelerating your professional success.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing The Networking Experience”, visit his web site at




Networking Power Tip: 9 Ways to Demonstrate a Positive Attitude

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Some networking conversations stay with you long after you’ve left the event. There’s that one person who left you feeling great and exuded positive energy. It’s a feeling that stayed with you and made you remember them, even days after your initial contact.

A positive attitude is much more a developed skill than a quality. The most successful people always seem to exude positive vibrations. want to know how you can have the ability to have other remember with fond memories? Here are some tips to help you demonstrate a positive attitude.

1.Accept the discipline of a positive attitude. Feeling and acting positive is a personal habit. Commit today to becoming a person who reflects positive energy no matter what your situation or circumstances.

2. Develop the skills of a positive attitude. Everyone likes to be around someone who has a positive outlook. By being positive, you will naturally attract others and make them want to spend more time with you.

3. Keep your smile up front at all times. A genuine smile literally radiates a positive attitude. Too many people get overcome by the stress of networking and forget how much their face tells others.

4. Have good news to tell others. Keep a list of good news to share with others. We are bombarded with negative news on a continuous basis. We all need more good news and injecting good news is a positive force.

5. Ask others for good news. Everyone has some good news to talk about. When you ask others to tell you about theirs, they will associate the good feelings that come up with you.

6. Try to find the good in bad news. Many people are negative and unhappy. You can help them by taking a bad news story and finding the positive side. People want to spend more time with someone who can find the silver lining in his or her dark cloud.

7. Be a problem solver. We tend to focus on the negative but really enjoy talking about the positive. When someone presents a problem, try to help him or her find a solution. In many cases you will lift their spirits and sometimes you may even help them solve it.

8. Empathize don’t sympathize. When someone presents a negative situation, we have a tendency to sympathize and stay focused on it. Empathize by listening, but don’t let it dominate. Look for a solution or a positive aspect to the situation, or move to another topic.

9. Laugh a lot. Having an easy laugh means you take life in a positive way. Others willwant to be around you because you generate positive feelings with you happy nature. Laugh more often and others will want to spend more time with you.

Having a positive attitude is a choice. Are you choosing to make others feel better for having spent time with you? It’s a skill that that only requires a small investment, yet will pay enormous dividends.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at

6 Little-Known Chamber of Commerce Member Myths & Facts

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In the early stages of my business, I came to realize that a steady stream of new prospects was a requirement for business success. By extension, I accepted the need to network. As I researched the most effective networking organizations, I quickly recognized the Chamber of Commerce as an ideal business-building vehicle.

Not only was it the largest networking group in the region, but I could attend a number of events in a month and meet different people. Quite frankly, at this point in my business evolution, I wasn’t thinking any further than this. After over 15 years of involvement, here are some insights that may be helpful to you.

FACT: History – default business network.  The Chamber of Commerce (and its sister organization, Board of Trade) concept has been in place for hundreds of years. Its original purpose was as a “local organization of businesses whose goal is to further the interests of businesses”, advocating on behalf of members in a multitude of areas.

It is recognized as the most respected business network in any community. In fact, in many smaller towns and cities, the Chamber of Commerce is the default business network, and joining the Chamber is a required step for every new business. More often than not, it is the largest business network in a region or community.

As a Chamber of Commerce member, you instantly leverage its years of organizational credibility, integrity and respect. A Chamber of Commerce membership carries with it instant credibility as a business person. You are immediately perceived as more professional and competent.

FACT: Opportunity – access to pre-qualified market sectors.  The Chamber of Commerce acts as a magnet for business. Its varied membership allows access to a number of markets with one investment. Because it appeals to such a broad base of businesses, it offers an almost unlimited basket of prospects over a longer period of time.

The Chamber of Commerce’s multi-pronged approach to supporting business means that you will naturally have more options to connect with other business owners or corporate professionals. Because it spans the entire spectrum of business involvement, it automatically creates additional opportunities to showcase or promote the talents, skills or value you have to offer.

One of the negative issues with more concentrated referral groups is that as your business grows, you can lose relevance. One of the Chamber’s most important benefits is that it can act as a marketing vehicle over a longer period of time as your business evolves and grows, leveraging your personal and professional credibility to new prospects and expanded market segments.

FACT: Member breakdown.  The Chamber of Commerce is, by its nature, a community of small business owners. In fact, the majority of Chamber of Commerce members are consistently in the small business category (less than 20 employees). This means that if you want to do business with this demographic, the smartest thing you can do is become a member and leverage its power and potential.

Even though small business makes up the majority of members, every Chamber has a nucleus of larger companies that see benefit of Chamber membership. There could be any number of reasons for this: being part of the Chamber’s advocacy role, targeting small business or good corporate citizenship.

The key point to remember here is that Chamber of Commerce membership can be used to target selected larger companies that are part of, or associated with, the Chamber’s membership or mandate. In fact, the Chamber can offer incredible opportunities for building relationships with these bigger member-companies.

MYTH: Beware the sense of entitlement. One of the most common mistakes made by business owners or professionals is to presume that Chamber of Commerce membership equals results. Too often, the decision to join is made with the mistaken assumption that the registration fee will automatically make the phone ring, cause others to beat a path to your door and make the cash register ring. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Chamber of Commerce represents a wealth of options and opportunities. Joining the Chamber is the first step; it’s the price of admission. Without your willingness and commitment to become involved, the investment will be wasted. Membership carries with it the requirement to participate, allowing others to become aware of the value your represent and the benefits your products or service provide.

MYTH: instant clients and referrals. One of the fastest ways to destroy personal and professional credibility is to presume that your Chamber of Commerce membership includes an automatic gateway to clients and referrals.

Some new members misconstrue that others will buy from them or refer them to their clients, simply because of the Chamber connection. There’s a huge gap between professional courtesy and permission to buy. Remember this as you connect with other Chamber members.

MYTH: Membership buys personal credibility. Your Chamber of Commerce membership pre-supposes both professionalism and integrity but, like an introduction, it buys you short-term credibility. There is no question that you will be well-received by other Chamber of Commerce members when you approach or contact them, but the rules of business still apply.

We buy from people we know, like and trust. We refer professionals we know have value. Building relationships is still the single most effective business-building strategy. The Chamber of Commerce provides environment and opportunity. You must prove your worth, one conversation, one member and one relationship at a time.

Do you want more info an how to better leverage your Chamber of Commerce membership? Email me at with “Chamber” in the subject line to receive a complimentary copy of my Ultimate Chamber of Commerce Member’s Success Guide ebook.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To find out more about him or have him speak at your next conference or meeting, visit his web site at




5 Ways to Overcome Adversity.

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Every entrepreneur encounters adversity. It’s an inevitable part of the risk-reward equation that comes with this career choice. The question is not if you will face adversity, it is how you face and overcome it.

Adversity comes in any number of ways: an unexpected downturn in the economy, a business decision that doesn’t pan out or some external factor that negatively impacts your enterprise’s operation. Use these proven strategies to effectively deal with adversity:

1.Re-visit your passion. Adversity, whatever form it arrives in, usually brings with it a huge emotional impact. It can stop you dead in your tracks. Its partners are frustration, anger and denial, any of which can lead to a negative spiral. When you sense these emotions taking over, take a step back. Think about your reasons for becoming an entrepreneur. Review the steps you have accomplished so far. Remind yourself of the success you have achieved. Above all, put the current situation into its proper perspective: another issue to deal with on your path to success. Re-build your courage and your commitment. This is what entrepreneurship is all about.

2. Face the facts. As a business owner you have a bias for action, but continuing to implement ideas or activities that aren’t producing desired results is a recipe for disaster. One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result. Is your business achieving its desired outcomes? If not, why? No matter the cause, being aware of both expected and actual results is the starting point of dealing with adversity. Getting to the facts, rather than avoiding reality, is the first step to overcoming adversity.

3. Clarify your situation. Less than stellar results can come from any number of business-related issues, areas or factors. They can stem from specific impact points. You need to clearly and objectively identify the source of the problem(s). Is this an external factor you had no control over? Is this an internal area that hasn’t worked out as planned? Is this a business decision, made with the best of intentions, that hasn’t worked as anticipated? Adversity often arrives as a huge wall that overwhelms and incapacitates. Work your way back, focusing on the individual criteria that created the situation. Focus brings clarity, clarity creates direction, direction fuels action.

4. Revise your plan. Determining a fact-based perspective is the single biggest step in overcoming adversity. Re-visiting your business plan and revising it to accommodate your current situation allows you to become more objective about the requirements for future success. Once your situation and its options have been set to paper, you can focus on the required actions or resources. This new tool acts as a barometer for current conditions, feeds your confidence and can be shared with others to gain input and feedback. Adversity is an indicator of a need for change. Confirming what you need to change, clarifying it as part of your plan and committing to positive action will dissipate adversity’s impact.

5. Redouble your efforts. Now that you have dealt with adversity’s emotional impact, clarified the realities of your situation and the reasons for it, and revised your plan to accommodate your current and future needs, it’s time to get to work. Adversity will always be a part of your entrepreneurial environment. Focused activity that uses adversity as part of gaining experience will always re-build confidence and accelerate results.

NOTE: Use adversity to your advantage by:
• Not wasting time and effort on its emotional content.
• Focusing on the facts of your adversity.
• Improving your planning.
• Committing to results-focused action.

Are you dealing with adversity? You are not alone. Let’s talk. Email me at with “adversity” in the subject line. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him and receive a complimentary copy of his ebook “Managing the Networking Experience,” visit his web site at

Networking and The Relationship Factor: How Long is Long Enough?

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Success in business and in life is all about relationships. Relationships take time, need to be nurtured and require investment. Networking ignites the process, but you must be willing to invest enough time to build both personal and professional trust, discover mutual value areas and confirm the contribution you can both make.

When these three key areas are maintained for an extended period of time, the results and benefits grow exponentially. Are you thinking in terms of a 90-cycle with these important people? Here’s why investing for 90 days is a requirement for networking success and pays enormous dividends :

Extends the prospecting process. Most networking situations do not allow you to properly evaluate a prospect. By investing in a 90-day follow up program, you can extend your discussion to include additional topics or information areas. You will have the ability to confirm the value you have and discover other areas of need.

• Demonstrates professionalism. A true professional is always prepared to make an investment of time, effort and energy. By expecting and suggesting follow up, you demonstrate quality and integrity. By expanding your commitment to 90 days, you confirm your professionalism. In fact, using this discipline will often accelerate your desired outcome.

• Builds trust. One of the most powerful influences on any decision is trust. Following up for 90 days increases trust by demonstrating your willingness to invest in the relationship process over an extended period of time. Also, a sincere interest in meeting again heavily influences the other person’s level of trust and comfort.

• Expands options. Following up gives you an extra edge because you increase your depth of knowledge about the other person’s situation or circumstances. Additional discussion will allow you the opportunity to elicit more information about their emotional state.

• Activates the principle of reciprocation. One of the incredible benefits of following up is that the other person will relate to your actions. Because you are willing to invest more time with them, they feel closer to you and will listen to your side of the story. When you adopt a 90-day perspective, you have many opportunities to contribute to their lives, increasing your leverage and the chance to have them help you achieve your objectives.

I’ve designed a structure that allows anyone to manage and maximize their highest-value contacts on a 90-day cycle. The system can be customized to individual or company needs. It does not require complicated software or technology. It can be implemented on a piece of paper or on a simple document, and expanded as needed. Email me at to receive a complimentary copy.


Michael Hughes is known as THE Networking Guru. To find out more about him or have him share his networking message and methodology at your next meeting or conference, visit  his web site at

Networking Power Tips: 8 Ways to Focus on the Other Person

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Conversation is a give and take between two or more individuals and each participant has a contribution to make. Taking time to listen to others demonstrates what they have to say is important to you. Here are some ideas on how to make the other person feel important.

1.Maintain eye contact. Keep your eyes focused on theirs. Do not continually look away or at others. One guideline is to look into the other person’s eyes for about 30 seconds, then look away for a few seconds

2. Ask follow up questions. Questions that follow into the same topic to show you are listening. They reflect a sincere curiosity about the other person’s situation and are an excellent opportunity to get additional information.

3. Use probing questions. By asking gentle probing questions around some of the general areas of a person’s life you can usually find a topic that will bring out some common ground or an issue that the other person is passionate about.

4. Use verbal cues. Verbal cues are simply expressions of agreement, interest or enthusiasm. Statements like “ Wow, that sounds great”, or “I like it” are an excellent way to demonstrate that we are interested and focused on the other person

5. Use body language. Studies show that over 50% of communication is through body language. Leaning in a bit from the waist up or tilting the head a bit demonstrate active listening and are a physical expression of focus on the other person’s words.

6. Give them the option to lead. Some people want and need to lead the conversation. Being aware of this and responding to it are an excellent way to focus on the other person. This makes them feel in control and these good feelings extend to include us.

7. Reply with sincerity and respect. Giving your total attention to the other person through sincere and respectful replies to questions and comments during a conversation are one of the powerful demonstrations that you are focused on them.

8. Include others. Some people have difficulty participating in group conversations. Make an effort to engage everyone in a group. This gives them their opportunity to shine and they feel they are contributing.

It takes maturity and discipline to put the other person’ needs first. In doing so, you enhance the perception of your professionals, integrity and confidence. Want more information about this topic? Email me at let’s talk. I can help.

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at

Mastering the 3 Characteristics of Networking for Results.

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Most professionals think of networking as a social activity; that it’s simply about meeting others. The truth is that networking is fundamental premise of our society. It’s the process that accelerates careers, builds businesses and drives results. Here are the three fundamental characteristics that all successful people know, use and maximize.

1. Networking for results is relationship-based.  The really smart people know that being successful in business is mostly about relationships. Good salespeople know that selling is a people business, not a product business. Getting ahead in many cases depends as much or more on who you know as what you know. The people we know or can know or will know are one of the most important success factors in business success.
Networking for results is finding, developing and leveraging relationships with key persons who have the ability or willingness to help us achieve our business goals. Developing and managing these important relationships speaks to the reality that we buy people first, ideas second and things last. By focusing our energies, efforts and expectations around maximizing the inter-actions with others who can or will help us achieve our business objectives, we take advantage of one of the most powerful human motivators.

2. Networking for results is developmental.  Consumers and prospects today are informed, educated and fickle. They are bombarded and overwhelmed with information about every new and improved product or service. We have come to recognize that everyone is trying to sell something, especially at a business level. We are closed, cautious and reserved when meeting new business acquaintances. We let down our guard only when we begin to feel comfortable and safe. We want to know that the other person accepts and understands us.
Networking for results is the process of creating and developing trust in relationships using a focused strategy, a specific structure and inter-personal skills.  Unless and until we feel more and more comfortable and trustworthy of another person, we will not open up about issues and opinions that are important to us. Once an appropriate level of trust has been built, we are prepared to share and benefit through a relationship

3. Networking for results is reciprocal.  Each of us has at one time or another been helped by another person. We associate strong feelings with receiving assistance, especially if it is sincere and unselfish. In this world of “me first” and “what’s in it for me?”, when someone goes out of their way to help us, it generates a great sense of comfort and trust. By reversing the usual course of relationships, especially in business, we exponentially raise the other person’s sense of trust.
Networking for results is cultivating the philosophy of developing a relationship by focusing emphasis on the other person’s needs, interests and situation.  One of the strongest feelings we can know is being obligated to another person. The key words here are sincere and unselfish. The principle of reciprocation is one the most powerful tools to help build trust so that others will be more open and receptive to us and our business ideas.

Do you know where you need to improve for more and better networking results? Take the networking skills self-assessment at

Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at

The Secret to Getting More Referral Business

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Every person you meet has the potential to contribute to your objectives, to the extent she/he is willing and able. Your mission is to discover that person’s ability relative to your needs and develop her/his willingness to contribute.

Marketing Reality:  The majority of your business and your success will come from, or through, a small group of satisfied clients and helpful colleagues. This happens as a natural by-product of the powerful relationships with these people, who have come to value your qualities and trust your judgment.

The Power of Relationships:  Relationships are our most valued and precious assets. We invest a great deal of time, effort and energy nurturing and building them. We hesitate, and often resist sharing them with others, keenly aware that the fragile balance of trust and quality is easily damaged or destroyed. Yet we are ready and willing to contribute when they identify an area of need or we see an opportunity to add value.

Relationships as Circles of Influence:  Each of us has circles of influence. They come as part of the relationships we create and develop. Every relationship has within it an area of potential and power to affect the attitudes and actions of others. Each circle of influence is individual and unique, and is based on the quality of a relationship. Circles of influence are a part of every relationship: with your professional contacts, your clients and prospects, as well as your personal network.

Relationship Influence Areas:  You are a circle of influence for others, just as they are circles of influence for you. You impact others with the dynamics of this effect every day as you interact with them, and they with you. Becoming more aware of the by-products and benefits can allow us to manage the process better, not to manipulate or overpower others, but to maximize it for mutual benefit and gain, is a huge leveragre area. Here are three main areas of influence:
Information. As the other person develops trust in you and your areas of knowledge, they will come to you for information in this category. This is, of course, natural and normal and offers you the opportunity to influence her/his thinking about people and products.
Opinions. During in-going conversations, you are asked for your opinions about certain issues and individuals. Your opinion is requested because the strength of your relationship means that the other person respects your point of view and is receptive to listening to your views.
Suggestions. As your relationship grows and develops, you are asked for suggestions on any number of topics and issues. This is where you can be of valuable assistance as you recommend others or suggest additional options or services.

Defining a Referral:  A referral is an opportunity as well as a process. It arises as a question, a request for information or suggestion and becomes a sincere expression of the value of the relationship and the trust in the individual. Referrals build stronger relationships. There is a distinct difference between a lead and a referral.
Lead: an open-ended statement referring to a product, service or person. Leads are passed easily and often. They carry little or no obligation or involvement on the part of the initiator towards the recipient or the prospect.
Referral: is a precious gift, offered only after careful consideration, with a sincere interest in adding value to both the referral recipient and the prospect. It carries the credibility and the character of both the referral initiator and the referral recipient.

To refer is to direct attention to a person, product or service. It is an action done FOR another, as opposed to BY another. A referral, in and of itself, carries no further obligation. It can be positive or negative. It is highly subjective. It can be, and often is, heavily influenced by the character and credibility of its initiator.

Referral Success Secret: Earn the right to request and receive more referrals by first unselfishly contributing to others’ success, as you uncover how they can be helpful to you. This activates one of the most powerful principles in our society: the principle of reciprocation. In addition, it stimulates their willingness to help you in return and leverages your referral request to maximize the result for both of you. There are three components in a productive referral strategy:
Planning. Very few people invest time to prepare for referral success. Preparation includes research about the person and her/his situation prior to your referral request, developing referral options that fit the person’s abilities and maximizing the timing of your referral request.
Process. The referral request process is both an art and a science. If mishandled it can have a detrimental effect on the relationship. Developing a step-by-step approach that synergises with the relationship process will increase your chances for success. Read on to discover a proven and practical method for this process.
Patience. A referral strategy of “ask early and ask often” can be not only damaging, it is a recipe for disaster. In fact, recognizing that there are multiple referral types and opportunities promotes a more patient approach to actually achieve more success faster.

Do you want to get more and better referrals? Accept that generating referrals is  skill-based activity. I’ve developed a “Referral Request Self-Assessment” that allows to use every referral opportunity as a learning experience and double my referral results every 90 days. Would you like to try it  out? Email me at info@NetworkingForResults with REFERRAL in the subject and I’ll send you a copy.

Michael J. Hughes is a recognized authority on utilizing networking as a business strategy. To find out more about him, or to have him present at your next meeting or conference, contact him at his web site at


5 Barriers to being a Better Listener

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Have you ever driven home from a networking event struggling to remember names, specific facts or pieces of information? You’re not alone.

The reality is that there are concrete reasons why we don’t listen as well as we could or should. Check out the list below and see if you can relate to any of these issues. Then review the corresponding strategies to minimize their impact in your networking interaction.

Barrier #1-Brain speed. Most of us talk at a rate of 125-150 words per minute while our brain can process information at 550-600 words per minute. Because of this, we sometimes get bored during a conversation and our mind wanders, losing track of valuable information.

Strategy: Become more aware of this fact and that it causes you to miss key information. Discipline yourself to focus your attention on your conversation partner and stay tuned to both her/his words and meaning.

Barrier #2-Pre-judgement. This is a common error that we make when meeting others. Because of our background, culture or mindset, we develop a pre-conceived notion about others and close our minds to listening.

Strategy: Keep an open mind, especially when meeting new contacts. Don’t fall prey to the tendency of judging others before giving yourself, and her/him, the opportunity to benefit from one another’s personality, experience or opinion.

Barrier #3-Hurry. We live in an urgency-driven society. Too often we try to rush a conversation, missing an opportunity to connect with others. We make the mistake of thinking that networking is meeting many people.

Strategy: Time is your must valuable asset. Slow down the networking process, giving all your attention and energy to listen to one conversation partner at a time. This is one of the most powerful ways to build trust in a short period of time.

Barrier #4-Agenda Anxiety. Sometimes we try to control the networking conversation based on a personal agenda. This causes us to overlook important information or miss key opportunities that could help us grow a relationship.

Strategy: Active listening requires maturity and discipline. By allowing the conversation to evolve naturally, you will more quickly discover how and where you and your conversation partner can help one another.

Barrier #5-Stress. Surveys have continually revealed that stress is a major contributor to miscommunication. Feeling anxious when meeting others causes us to momentarily freeze or block, and miss valuable information.

Strategy: Realize when you are stressed and take action to reduce this negative influence. Use breathing techniques, leave the stressful situation for a short time or clench your hands tightly for about 20 seconds.


Michael Hughes is known as North America’s Networking Guru. To get more info about his services or to have him speak at your next meeting or conference, visit his web site at

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