184: Building Your Network Before You Need It with Dr. Ivan Misner

By July 26, 2017Podcasts

 

 

BNI Founder Ivan Misner shares the lowdown on the why and how of relationship-building.

You’ll Learn:

  1. The fundamental networking disconnect that holds us back
  2. Ivan’s all-time favorite networking strategies
  3. How to wow prospective employers via a “working interview”

About Ivan

Dr. Ivan Misner, is considered one of the world’s leading experts on business networking. He is the Founder of BNI.com, the largest business networking organization and has written several top business books including three New York Times Bestsellers, two Amazon Bestsellers and one Wall Street Journal Bestseller. Titles include, “Avoiding the Networking Disconnect,” “Business Networking and Sex” and “Networking Like A Pro”. Ivan holds a Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior and as the Co-Founder of the BNI Charitable Foundation, he was named “Humanitarian of the Year” by The Red Cross.

Items Mentioned in this Show:

Ivan Misner Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Ivan, thanks so much for joining us here on the How to be Awesome at Your Job podcast.

Ivan Misner

My pleasure. Thanks for inviting me.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, well, I’m so thrilled to dig into your wisdom. But first, I wanted to cover something kind of fun. I learned in my prep that you studied chess under a Russian grandmaster. Could you tell us the tale?

Ivan Misner

Yeah, a Russian-born grandmaster. He lives in the U.S. and has for many years now. His name is Igor Khmelnitsky, and he was born in the Ukraine. And he was referred to me, and I worked with him for some time. It is really amazing play a grandmaster. They just toy with you.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh.

Ivan Misner

You just feel so helpless. You get pushed around the table or the board. It’s just an amazing experience.

Pete Mockaitis

Well, I was really into chess in my younger days, and I still play from time to time. And I remember that was just so powerful for me to learn that “Wow, if I read books and learn about chess things, then I get better at chess.” When I beat my dad without him letting me for the first time, it’s like, “Oh, wow.”

Ivan Misner

Yes.

Pete Mockaitis

Just the power of knowledge and learning and growing and improving. It started a really cool trajectory and here we are.

Ivan Misner

Well, I love the game and I probably don’t play it as much now. And he taught me a lot. There were a number of things. He just opened my eyes to concepts I would have never even imagined. I think one of my favorites was you don’t have to respond to an attack.

Pete Mockaitis

All right.

Ivan Misner

And I’m like, “What? Of course you have to respond to an attack.” He said, “No, you don’t.” He said, “Attack me.” And so I went after him, and he did nothing, and I took pieces. And then, out of nowhere, he checkmated me.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah.

Ivan Misner

And he said, “Look, sometimes when people are so focused on doing damage to you, just let them do it and you do your own thing.” And that was good advice for life. Let them do what they’re going to do. You do with your own thing and you’re going to win.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s good.

Ivan Misner

And I thought it was great advice for chess and for life in some circumstances.

Pete Mockaitis

Perfect. Well, thank you for sharing that. And so when you talk about life and flourishing, you’ve got quite the organization that helps with that. Tell us, what is BNI all about and how do we get in?

Ivan Misner

Well, BNI is a business and professional networking organization. We allow one person per classification to join. So there’s one lawyer, one chiropractor, one florist. They get together every week, so we have weekly meetings all around the world. I started the organization in 1985. We now have 8,082 chapters in more than 70 countries around the world. We help people build their business through referrals. And last year, we passed 8.8 million referrals and generated $11.1 billion worth of business for our members through this referral process. So in a nutshell, it’s a platform for people to get together and generate referrals for their business.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, that’s so powerful. So then I’m hearing that the people tend to be business owners or people associated with business development for an organization.

Ivan Misner

Yeah. So business owners or salespeople for larger companies, or sort of “professionals,” certain medical professions like chiropractors and dentists, and of course, professionals like accountants and lawyers. So really quite a few different professions represent those three broad categories.

Pete Mockaitis

So now, if I were just to go over to your website, bni.com (I was playing with it), I just type in a ZIP code and then boom. I see numerous local chapters, and then I could just reach out to them and ready to go.

Ivan Misner

You can, yeah. Or the local director and ask what chapters do they recommend. Either would be great. And there’s plenty to choose from. I mean, look, when I started BNI in 1985, it became apparent very quickly to me that we don’t teach this in colleges and universities. We don’t teach anybody how to network, how to build their business through referrals. And BNI really was, I think, an example of necessity being the mother of invention. I needed referrals. I was a management consultant. I mean, I’d like to tell you I started BNI because I had this brilliant idea and big vision, but I started it because I needed referrals and I wanted to help my friends. And that’s when I realized, “Oh my goodness. Nobody really understands how to network.” We don’t teach this in college. And so BNI was really about helping provide the platform and the process to achieve that.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. That’s great. And so, then, how big is a chapter in terms of network members?

Ivan Misner

The statistical mean worldwide is 27. They can get as big as a hundred members. We have some chapters that have a hundred members. But a 40-member chapter is awesome, really solid.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s good. And so you say one per category. So I guess I’d be like the training guy. And so we’ve got the chiropractor, the dentist, and the training dude, and 37 others.

Ivan Misner

Yeah. And you might get some professions that… You might get two or three lawyers representing different areas of the law: family law, contract law, wills and trusts. So it’s possible that you’ll split that up because if you could just do what you love to do in your profession and let someone else that’s in a similar profession do what they love to do, that actually makes for a stronger chapter because you’re able to send business to each other almost easier than anybody else because you’re in a similar profession. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis
It does make sense. And you just feel better about what you’re giving and receiving. It’s like I am more delighted if I get a client which is a bull’s eye for what I dig doing and vice-versa, so that’s cool.

Ivan Misner

You touched on something that almost no one ever recognizes, and that is that when you go to a BNI meeting and you’ve got three or four referrals in your hand… And we actually fill out referrals. And you could do it online as well, but we have referral slips. When people show up and they have four referrals in their hands, they’re really excited to be able to pass that on. I mean, I see that all the time. Very true.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, that is so cool. Well, fun. So this was new to me. I’m getting an education. But zooming in on the listener here, I know from my conversations and surveys that the vast majority are not business owners or sales folks, but some are. But everyone is a professional who has got something cool going on. So within that context, could you maybe open us up and share a little bit about how do you think overall in terms of worldview or philosophy on networking and relationship building in general?

Ivan Misner

Yeah. Whether you own a business or you’re trying to generate referrals for your business, or whether you just want to network for your career, because for your career, networking, a lot of what I teach applies there as well, it’s very important that you build your network. And for your listeners that are out there, I want you to think about this for a moment. Have you really, really built a powerful personal network? And if you haven’t, it’s not too late. It really is not too late. There’s a great Chinese proverb that I love. It’s “When is the best time to plant an oak tree?” and the answer is 25 years ago. And the second part of the answer is today. So if you haven’t planted that oak tree years ago to build your network, then start today.
I think what happens is that people are so focused on their need when they need it. They don’t build their network before they need it. A couple of years ago, I was in London and had almost a thousand people in the audience, and I said, “How many of you are here today hoping to just maybe (and these were businesspeople) sell something?” Pete, a thousand people raised their hands. I mean, the whole room raised their hands. I said, “Great. How many of you are here hoping to buy something today?” No one raised their hands.
This is what I call the networking disconnect. People are always trying to sell something, but they don’t want to buy it. Or people always network when they want something, but they’re not networking to give something. At least the people who aren’t doing it right. And so, to me, my worldview is stop using networking as a face to face cold calling opportunity. Use it as a relationship building opportunity.

Pete Mockaitis

All right. Excellent. So huge disconnect. Everyone wants to take, and you want to proactively build the network by giving and being generous in advance.

Ivan Misner

Yes, absolutely. It’s about building social capital. You go to your bank, and if you have no money in the bank and you write a check for a hundred bucks, they frown on that. They don’t like that, right? So relationship capital is very much the same. Social capital is the same. It helps if you invest in the person before you ask for a withdrawal, before you ask for something. And that seems so obvious when I bring it up to people. They’re like, “Oh, yeah, I guess that’s true.” Yeah, so don’t ask people that you don’t really know, or that you know but you haven’t invested in at all. Don’t ask them for anything because they’re a lot less likely to give it to you if you haven’t invested in the relationship.

Pete Mockaitis

And we talk about investing. Can you give us some great examples of what does investing look, sound, feel like? One thing is just buying what they’re selling, or sharing some of your insights or wisdom, hopefully, if they perceive it to be as such with them. But what are some of your favorite ways to invest in folks?

Ivan Misner

For me, it’s about finding out more about them, finding out what challenges they have, and seeing if there’s a way I can help them with the challenge. And I’ll give you a great example. In one of my books, in “Truth or Delusion,” I say you can network anywhere. I lay out the whole book as truth or delusion. You can network anywhere, anytime, anyplace, even at a funeral. Is that truth or delusion? Well, my answer is truth, but you must honor the event. So don’t go walking around the funeral passing out your business cards. That’s stupid. But if your philosophy of networking is to give to people, help people, then you should be able to do it anywhere.
And I’m going to give you an example that answers your question. I was at a church event. And that’s normally a place where you’d think of networking. But there was a business guy that I really wanted to get to know. I wanted to know what he did more, build a relationship with him. So I saw him there. I started asking him questions about his business. A good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use them both proportionately. They’re like a good interviewer. They ask questions and let people expound.
So I asked him questions about his business. What does he like about it? What’s his target market? He went on and on. He loved talking about his business. Then I asked the really important question which goes to the heart of your question. I asked a really important question. “What are some of the challenges you have in this business?” Now, you can’t start with that because they’ll be like, “Who are you, and why are you asking?” So you end with that.
And it’s amazing to me, Pete, how people will tell you some of their challenges. And his was really a perfect challenge for me. He said, “You know what? I have a really successful business, and I’m looking for a way to give to the church, give to charity, but I don’t want to do it the same amount every year. I don’t want to do all of the money I have to give that year. I’d like to create a foundation, but I’m too small for that. And that’s really my biggest challenge is putting money aside over time to be able to give to charity.”
I said, “Wow. Have you ever heard of a community foundation?” He said, “No. What’s that?” And I explained what they are. Basically, you can set up a small fund under a big parent foundation, look, feel, and smell like your own foundation. And he’s like, “I have never heard of that.” Now, here he was, Pete, at a church function, fumbling around in his pocket to give me his card and ask me to call him.

Pete Mockaitis

Yeah.

Ivan Misner

Which I did, and I put him in touch with a foundation that I was involved with. He was ecstatic. This is exactly what I’m talking about. I’m talking about you look for opportunities to help people. And by help them, I don’t mean sell them something. I don’t mean have them hire you. I mean really truly help them. And if you can find ways to do that, your social capital goes up with them overnight. If I had to call that guy two weeks later and asked for an appointment to meet, he’d have done it in a heartbeat. First of all, he would have taken my phone call and then he would have met with me if I asked. And that’s what I mean by building social capital.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Well, these are some great principled foundations here for how to think about all of this and how it goes down to sort of as a lifestyle. Your publicity folks gave me some detailed insight into you’ve got a bit of a full-blown playbook when it comes to in the career search realm, finding and landing secret jobs. Can you lay that out for us? How does that go down, and how does the networking play into it?

Ivan Misner

Well, there is a study just recently published by LinkedIn that says, and this correlates with almost every other study I had seen, but this one is very recent on LinkedIn that says, 80% of all jobs are found by referral, oftentimes before they’re even advertised. And so that’s a huge, huge number. Now, I stopped and thought about that when I saw it, and I realized that 80% of the jobs that I ever got before I started BNI, exactly 80% were through referral. And I was like, “Wow. That’s an amazing statistic.”
So how do you work that? So here are six things to keep in mind. One, you have to start with the right mindset. Desperation is not referable. And if you’re depending on people to refer you, if you act desperate—desperate for the job, desperate for the business—it’s just going to put people off. They’re not going to even want to talk to you, and they’re certainly not going to refer you because the person they refer to you is going to call that guy back and say, “Why did you send this person to me? They just came on too desperate.” So that’s the first one. Have the right mindset.
Second, and this is a real important one, Pete, in this day and age. Image check your social media because, I promise you, employers will. Potential employers will. And you want to get the job and you want to make your referral person look good. That person who referred you, you want them to look good because if this referral doesn’t work out, they might refer you to another one. But if the potential employer checks out your social media and they’re shocked, they’re not going to be happy.
I once was considering hiring someone and I checked out his Facebook page. Oh my goodness. He threw out the F bomb time after time on his posts, and he posted wildly inappropriate comments and tirades about people. This is not the kind of guy I want in my office. It’s not the kind of influence I want around my office. I didn’t hire him and I really didn’t even interview him. One of my staff had interviewed him, and that’s how the résumé got to me. But after I looked at that, I didn’t even interview him. So these are two things you want to do before.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, that’s good. And Ivan, I might add to that. When it comes to social media, I would say just Googling yourself with incognito tab. And I remember, for a long time, when I Googled myself, I mean, this wasn’t like wildly inappropriate, but there was a Daily Illini article in which I was quoted about attending an event, “The Art of Kissing.” And it’s sort of like, “Ugh.” That’s probably not what I want someone to see is that Pete went to an Art of Kissing event and took a lot of notes because he’s a super dork or something about that. So I think that’s right on is that it might not even be in the Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter.

Ivan Misner

Good point.

Pete Mockaitis

But it could show up in someone else’s blog or a news piece. And you just kind of want to make sure that you’re clear on what people do, because that’s often my first step is not so much their Facebook, but rather, the Google.

Ivan Misner

I like to call that a BFO, a blinding flash of the obvious. It’s so obvious. I wrote an article on this topic and I didn’t put that in there, but it’s very obvious. And I Google myself often just to see what’s out there on me. So yeah, I’m going to add that to my content. Thanks.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh. I’m honored. Yeah. Cool.

Ivan Misner

Good stuff.

Pete Mockaitis

Super. So the online presence. They’re checking, so you should check.

Ivan Misner

Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis

So you got the mindset. You got your presence in shape. And then what?

Ivan Misner

Then you’ve got to start with your current relationships. I mean people that you really have a good relationship with. Friends. Family. At least the family you like. Business contacts. People you know face to face, in person. You want to let them know what’s going on, and check in with them, and let them know you’re going to be looking or you are looking. Then you want to check in with your LinkedIn and other social media. Now, you don’t want to do that publicly if you haven’t told your present employer you’re leaving. So you want to keep it under the public realm. But if you’re in between jobs, just put it out there. “Hey, I’m looking for any positions that might be open in this area.” Certainly the people you know, I would do it individually. That’s third.
Fourth, inventory all your other connections. These are maybe neighbors that you don’t know well, people that you’ve got connections with, but you don’t know them real well past customers, people in organizations that you belong to. And it never hurts to let them know. “Hey, I’m looking for work. These are the areas. And if you know someone, or better yet, if you could check with the organization that you’re in to see if there are any openings, that would be fantastic.” As a young man, I got at least two or three jobs before I started my career by just asking friends to check with HR. And right off the top of my head, I could think of three jobs I got because they just checked with HR and they had a spot open that my friend referred me to the HR and I got the job. So inventory your other connections as well as your current relationships.

Pete Mockaitis

All right. Very good.

Ivan Misner

Number five. It’s really important to kind of determine where you stand with all of these contacts. Is it an active, passive, or dormant relationship? So if it’s an active relationship, you could just pick up the phone and ask for help. And by the way, picking up the phone and asking for help is always better than sending an email or sending them a message on LinkedIn. If you know them, if you have an active relationship, you should be able to just pick up the phone and call them. Having that personal conversation, I think, is always better.
So active, there’s a relationship. Now, passive is where maybe you haven’t seen them in a while. Benign neglect is a way to really weaken your network. So try not to neglect the people in your network for long. But let’s say you have. So then reach out to them and reconnect, preferably in person, if you can. Find out about them, and only after you talk about them, let them know you’re looking for something. Dormant. The people that’s dormant, you just haven’t talked to them in so long. Reconnect by social media or email, if you can. Then strike up a phone conversation. But this is really important: Don’t ask for anything yet because the relationship is dormant. You haven’t invested in that social capital in a long, long time. Stay in touch. Build the relationship before you ask.
Now, if they say to you, “It’s really great catching up with you again. What’s going on with you?” then you can say, “Well, you know what? Actually, I’m in between jobs and I’m going to be looking around, so if you know someone that might be interested in the kind of work I can do, that would be great.” But don’t call them looking for that because it’s happened to me. There are people I haven’t talked to in 10 years, and all of a sudden, they want a referral to a job. I’m like, “Really? That’s why you called? Okay.”
So the sixth is visit organizations in the industry that you want. Now, go to association meetings in that industry. Or if you know somebody in that company, just drop in and say, “Hey, I know some people who work at the company, and I really like what this company does, and I just wanted to see if there were any openings.” Just drop in on those organizations, particularly associations, because that’s a great way to find out what’s going on in the industry that you’re looking for.

Pete Mockaitis

All right. So, Ivan, this is a great rundown here, and I want to talk a little bit about this passive or dormant relationship piece because it’s kind of like just the brutal reality is if constraints show up in terms of like… I guess I’ve got a pretty large-ish number of folks that are friends, whether we’re counting the Facebook friend total or the LinkedIn connection total or just how many people I had to agonizingly not invite to my wedding back in December. But I mean, in practice, I guess there are limits or bounds to just how much of a network we can maintain. How should we think about that, and what are some great ways to keep it maintained when time is scarce?

Ivan Misner

Yeah. So Facebook has kind of redefined what a friend is. On Facebook, I have many, many thousands, but how many friends do I really have? There’s actually been work done in this social science area. There’s a number called the Dunbar number which actually averages around 150 people. And Dunbar found that you can have a true relationship, and I would call it an active relationship, not even a passive or dormant, but an active relationship with about 150 people. But your network could be larger than that, and it could be a little more of a passive relationship.
And that’s where I think Facebook in particular and LinkedIn and other social media sites can be really useful to keep that passive relationship at least going so that, through benign neglect, you don’t lose that person completely. I think technology today is awesome. Just awesome. People talk to me. “But I’m not a millennial. I just don’t know how to network.” Well, I’m not sure that’s true because I’m a baby boomer and we didn’t know how to network either. So you can’t point your fingers at millennials. But I tell you what. In this day and age, what we have is that social media to stay in contact with.
When I did my doctoral degree, I went to school with some amazing people, but I did most of my degree in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I went to school with one of the deputy directors of the Federal Aviation Administration. This guy was incredible. Really, I wish I could have stayed in touch with him. But in the ‘80s and ‘90s, the only way you could stay in touch with somebody was pick up the phone and call them. Have you ever tried to call a deputy director of the Federal Aviation Administration? It’s not easy to get through. So I lost that contact. One of my schoolmates in the doctoral program (and this is not a joke) was the captain of the Palace Guard for Saddam Hussein.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, no kidding.

Ivan Misner

Yeah. Now, I’m sure I couldn’t stay in touch with him anymore, but he would have been an interesting guy to stay in touch with 10 years ago. There was a senior executive with the library system in LA. I lost touch with all of those people because I didn’t have the ability to stay connected even in a passive way like people do today. So use Facebook and LinkedIn and social media as a way of at least maintaining passive connections with people. Does that make sense?

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. I hear you. So there’s quite a distinction there. The Dunbar number says 150 is what you could really expect to be able to have an active relationship with, and then your Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. can extend you into some thousands.

Ivan Misner

Yeah.

Pete Mockaitis

So then what would be some of your top recommendations for ways to be systematic or disciplined or consistent (whatever word we want) in keeping things in great shape with both the elite 150 active posse and the larger passive group?

Ivan Misner

Touch points. It’s all about touch points. And not just what you post, but what you comment on for others. So from a social media perspective, you’re posting things about your vacation or whatever. It’s important to also read other people’s material and comment on what they’re posting. Reference maybe some experience that the two of you had and how that relates to this. Just touch points. This is where you avoid benign neglect.
Now, for your active network, I think you really actually need to meet them or talk to them periodically, even if it’s a phone call or an email, just to touch bases. I have one friend who was a friend of mine in high school. I met him when I was a junior in high school. I’m 61. He’s 60. We stayed in touch all these years. And the reason that we stayed in touch is that we always reach out. Sometimes it’s just two or three times a year. That’s it. But we stay connected not just on social media, but actually we stay connected more on phone calls and email than we do on social media. He’s not a big social media fan.
So stay connected with them whatever mode they like to use. Now, that’s a really important concept. You’ve got to stay connected in what they like to use. I kind of learned this with my kids a number of years ago. I had a daughter who didn’t know that the phone actually could call people. Her mobile phone. She thought all you did was text on it.

Pete Mockaitis

Kids these days.

Ivan Misner

I’d call her. No answer. I’d text her. Boom. She’d respond to me. I mean, really? All right. Fine. Then I had another daughter who… Phone? Forget it. Text? Forget it. WhatsApp. If I WhatsApp her, she’ll respond immediately. I had to download WhatsApp. I don’t use WhatsApp. It’s a great program, I guess, but I just don’t use it. I had to download WhatsApp so I could talk to her. It’s the only reason I have WhatsApp is for my daughter.
My son, he was a gamer, so forget about the phone. Forget about texting. Forget about email for all of them. Forget about WhatsApp. He didn’t like it. He’s a gamer, and I discovered that an online program called Steam has an instant message feature. So I downloaded Steam and then bought a game so that I could instant message my son to talk to him. The lesson that that taught me was it doesn’t matter where you are. What matters is where they are. And if you want to maintain a relationship, it helps if you know where they like to communicate. And you communicate where they are. That’s the way you maintain a relationship.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. I like that. And I think it takes a good bit of humility and flexibility and generosity to go there instead of just whine, like “These ungrateful kids. I don’t know how to use Steam. Come on.” But it sounds like… I don’t know if you had to get over yourself or if it was pretty quick and easy to just adapt for you personally.

Ivan Misner

I don’t adapt well, but these are my kids and you got to do what you got to do. It was important to me that I not lose touch with what’s going on in their life, so I adapted. They’ll grow out of it. One of them already has. Aliens come to take your kids when they’re in their teens, and they’re gone until their 20s and the aliens bring them back.

Pete Mockaitis

Well said. Oh my gosh. There’s so many things I want to cover. Okay. Let’s say maybe it will go a quick hit here. Do you have any favorite networking strategies or tactics or scripts like keywords and verbiage that you find… I know it’s more about generosity and investing and being kind, but if you have any tricks and hacks, we want to hear those, too.

Ivan Misner

Okay, so I’ll give you two themes. One is a strategy. One is a tactic. The first one strategy is what I call the VCP process. It’s the foundation of everything I teach. If you don’t get this, nothing else you do—nothing—will be effective. VCP. It stands for visibility, credibility, profitability. Whatever you’re talking about, whether you’re talking about getting a business or whether you’re talking about getting referrals for jobs or whether you’re talking about people helping you with giving you information, it’s about building the network and you do it through VCP.
First, you have to be visible.  People have to know who you are and what you do. They have to know who you are. Then you get to credibility, where people know who you are, they know what you do, and they know you’re good at it. This is the phase that takes a long time. Building credibility takes time. Once you’ve gotten to credibility, you then and only then can get to profitability, where people know who you are, they know what you do, they know you’re good at it, and they’re willing to help you in some way. They’re willing to give you a referral. They’re willing to give you job opportunities. They’re willing to help you in some way.
What happens is that we meet people and we try to jump over visibility, over credibility, and get right to profitability. In one of my books, I wrote a book called Business Networking and Sex, not what you think. It’s about the difference between men and women and how they network. And in the book, we call this premature solicitation, which you don’t want to say fast three times or it will get you in trouble. But that’s where you jump right in to trying to do business or trying to get what you want from the other party, as opposed to building the relationship. VCP.
The next is follow up. This is a tactic. People always ask me, “How do you follow up? What’s the best way to follow up?” So here it is. I call it 24/7/30. This is in a book that I just wrote with Brennan Scanlon called Avoiding the Networking Disconnect. Within 24 hours, drop them an email or, oh my goodness, go way outside the box. Write a postcard or a letter and follow up. So when you meet somebody at a networking event, follow up with them within 24 hours. “It was really great meeting you. I enjoyed spending time with you. I hope our paths cross again.” Don’t sell to them. Don’t ask them for anything.
Two: Within seven days, connect with them on social media. And remember what I talked about with my kids. Go where they are and not where you are. That’s really important. Within 24 hours. And don’t sell to them. I call it sales Tourette’s. People just can’t help. They’ve got to ask for whatever it is that they want. And you just can’t do that until you build the social capital. 24/7/30. Within 30 days, set up an appointment to meet with them. “It was really great meeting you last month. I followed some of the things you’re doing on LinkedIn or Facebook. Really interesting. I’d love to get to know more about what you do and see if there’s anything I could do to help you. And maybe you could find out about what I’m doing. Love to meet for coffee.” And that’s a great way, very specific tactics to follow up that are all about relationship building as opposed to just getting what you want from someone.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. Right on. And can you tell us, what is a working interview?

Ivan Misner

So we’ll go back to you’re looking for a job. A working interview is I think a brilliant concept. And it’s not my idea, but I’ve been using it for a long time. It’s a great way for any company to basically take your experience, your work ethic, and take it for a test drive. So what you do is you say to the person that you’re doing the interview, if this is a job you really want, then you say to the person, “Look, I’d be happy to do a working interview with you. I can show you what I can do. I really love what this company is doing and I want to be able to show you what I can do. So I’m happy to spend a day, an afternoon, whatever you would like, doing a working interview where you can see what I’m capable of doing and you can see my attitude in doing it. And you don’t have to hire me.”
Now, sometimes, companies will pay you anyway just because there are legal issues, but you offer to do it for free. Now, I just two weeks ago recommended this to my eldest daughter, and she’s like, “Really? Are you serious?” I said, “Honey, just try it. I’m telling you. I’ve recommended this to a lot of people.” She tried it. They were like, “Okay. We’ve got something going on tonight. Let’s see how you do tonight.” And they had her come in and had her do something at this big event. And they liked her so much that they hired her that night for the job. It’s a great concept if you’re looking for work. A working interview. Offer to work for free for a day, for an afternoon, so that they could see you operate.

Pete Mockaitis

What’s great about that is you learned something, too. It’s like “Wait a minute. These people are bitter, backstabbing vipers”

Ivan Misner

Yeah, you might.

Pete Mockaitis

“On second thought, I don’t want this job. Thank you very much.”

Ivan Misner

Yeah. You’re absolutely right. That could happen. I did have an employee once. She left our company and she went to work at another company, and she was there three hours and had that experience. And she called us and said, “Can I come back? I hate where I’ve gone to.” So yeah, you’re right. Sometimes, you can find out quickly.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, that is so good. Well, Ivan, tell me, is there anything else you want to make sure to mention before we quickly hear about a couple of your favorite things?

Ivan Misner

Yeah. I think the most important thing that I could share with your listeners is that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting, that it’s about cultivating relationships with other people. It’s not a get rich quick scheme. It’s a great way to build a solid foundation for a long term successful career.

Pete Mockaitis

Perfect. Thank you. Well, now, could you share with us a favorite quote, something you find inspiring?

Ivan Misner

So here’s one. I’ve been thinking about what should I share on this show that I’ve never shared before? And it’s not a business quote, but it’s absolutely my favorite life quote. Here it is. “One always dies too soon or too late. And yet one’s whole life is complete at that moment, with a line drawn neatly under it, ready for the summing up. You are your deeds and nothing else in life.” Jean-Paul Sartre.

Pete Mockaitis

All right. That’s among the heaviest. Thank you.

Ivan Misner

Yeah. I’ve never shared that on an interview, but that is my favorite personal quote.

Pete Mockaitis

I appreciate it. And how about a favorite book?

Ivan Misner

Well, if you’re thinking of starting a business, it would be E-Myth. E-Myth is an amazing book. I based a lot of BNI’s development on it. If you have any difficult issues to deal with with other people, the best book I have ever read is Crucial Conversations. And it really talks about how do you have conversations with people, personal or professional? They’re the tough conversations. How do you do them?

Pete Mockaitis

Thank you. And how about a favorite tool?

Ivan Misner

Oh, I couldn’t live without my computer. If I have a computer and a microphone, I can work anywhere in the world. And I do. I work all over the world. Yeah. That’s got to be my favorite tool.

Pete Mockaitis

Oh, well, we appreciate a good microphone. Thank you for bringing it. Very nice.

Ivan Misner

Well, yeah, I’ve got a Yeti.

Pete Mockaitis

It’s working. Thank you.

Ivan Misner

Yeah, it’s good.

Pete Mockaitis

And how about a favorite habit?

Ivan Misner

I color code my calendar. Always have. Well, not always. Over the last 10 to 15 years. Color code my calendar. I think an entrepreneur is either working in their flame or working in their wax. When they’re in their flame, they’re on fire. They’re excited. They love what they’re doing. So I can look at my calendar and, at a glance, know whether I’m working in my flame today or working in my wax. My wax meaning the things I don’t like to do. So everything I love doing is in green. Interviews, by the way, are green, so this is a green item for me. So I color code my calendar to know at a glance how I’m doing for the day.

Pete Mockaitis

I have to follow up with that. So if you have stuff you don’t like doing, so you just see it. You recognize it. Then what? You’ve got a bunch of wax on the day. What then?

Ivan Misner

Yeah, like red. Red is bad. Very bad. That’s usually discussions with lawyers. That’s bad. No. It tells me that I’m on a balance for where I want to be. I think I want to be working in my flame. And so if I have a day that’s all in blue or red or other colors, then I realize that I’ve got to make up for it tomorrow. I need a green day tomorrow. So it’s a way of planning your purpose. You don’t let the tail wag the dog. You have got to have some control over… Well, I can’t speak for you. I have always felt that I need to have some control over my life and my business. And so this is one way to do it is I really try to do things that are in my flame.

Pete Mockaitis

Beautiful. Thank you.

Ivan Misner

I don’t get there 100%, but I’m pretty close now.

Pete Mockaitis

That’s great. And now, could you share… Is there a particular piece that you reveal, a nugget that you share, whether it’s in your writing or speaking or something that just really seems to connect with people? They quote it. They retweet it. They Kindle Book highlight it.

Ivan Misner

Yeah. There’s a number, but one would be “The secret to success without hard work is still a secret.” I think so many people are looking for that one nugget. So many people say to me, “What’s the one secret to success in general or in networking or whatever?” and I always say to them, “The one secret is there is no one secret.” It’s a recipe. It’s always a recipe and it always involves hard work. And anybody who tells you that they’ve got some get rich quick scheme is, I think, almost always lying to you, where it’s “Buy my product and it will make you successful.” Success is hard work. It may be fun. If you love what you’re doing, it may not feel like hard work. But from the outside looking in, people go, “Yeah, that guy works hard.”

Pete Mockaitis

Right. In terms of sheer hours and attention and energy and courage, etc. Very good. So if folks want to learn more, get in touch, where would you point them?

Ivan Misner

I would send them to bni.com. And if they’d like to read my content, my material, see any new books I’ve got coming, ivanmisner.com. All free stuff up there.

Pete Mockaitis

Okay. And do you have a final parting challenge or call to action for those seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Ivan Misner

I think the one thing I’ve learned in the last 32 years of running the largest face to face networking organization is that it’s not what you know or who you know. You know that expression, “It’s not what you know. It’s who you know”? It’s not what you know or who you know. It’s how well you know each other that counts. That’s the key. When you go deep, if your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, it will never be powerful. You need a network that is both wide and in places deep. It’s all about relationships.

Pete Mockaitis

All right. Ivan, this has been such a treat. Thank you, and good luck with your books and all the good stuff you’re up to.

Ivan Misner

Pete, thank you. I appreciate it. Great interview.

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The Gold Nugget

The Gold Nugget

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