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TRUTH OR DELUSION?BUSTING NETWORKING'S BIGGEST MYTHS
By IVAN MISNER MIKE MACEDONIO MIKE GARRISON
Nelson BusinessCopyright © 2007 IVAN MISNER, MIKE MACEDONIO AND MIKE GARRISON
All right reserved.
Chapter OneTRUTH OR DELUSION? Networking is a fad.
DELUSION. Yes, that's right. We're starting with the biggest delusion of all. It wasn't that long ago when businesspeople were saying, "Oh, networking is just the newest craze; it'll never last. You have to get out there and pound the pavement, put up billboards, and place ads in the mass media, the yellow pages, the insides of buses, the outsides of people's shaved heads ..."
Did you say Truth? Well then, you haven't been paying attention to what's been going on around you. In our lifetime, an entirely new field of study is being codified. Whether you call it networking, word of mouth, referral marketing, relationship marketing, or social capital, it's all about people learning how to connect with other people in meaningful ways despite, or possibly because of, our technological revolution. Geography no longer matters; if you share an interest with someone halfway around the planet, making the connection online is as easy as-no, easier than-picking up the phone and dialing.
And yet, as new as all this technological connectivity is, it simply takes us back to an earlier era, when we lived in small communities with our extended families and knew all our neighbors. We worked for and with people we knew personally. We bought everything we needed from people who were our lifelong friends, were treated for illnesses by doctors who had cared for our parents, and trusted our finances to accountants we saw every week in church.
We don't live in a Little House on the Prairie anymore. We don't know our neighbors, and we have very few, if any, relationships with the local business community. When these communities fragmented, much of the community spirit faded as well. No longer did we feel responsibility for the welfare of our friends and neighbors, or that we all shared in the common good. The entire decade of the 1980s was called the "Me Generation," when businesspeople pursued their own interests at the expense of everybody else.
Networking is no more a fad than sales and marketing.
Referral networking arose in the vacuum created by this disappearing sense of community. It has become a way of marketing your business by building the businesses of your fellow networkers. The old ways have become new again. In networking organizations, though we may be lost in a sea of people in our big cities, we form relationships and do business with people who live near us and share a mutual interest in helping our businesses grow. At the same time, our reach is worldwide, giving us vastly more options and resources to tap for any need. It's the best of both worlds-and referral marketing is the discipline that brings it all together.
The first time I was asked, "Isn't this networking thing just a fad?" was in 1987. The question came from a newspaper reporter with one of the largest newspapers in the United States. Confidently I told her, "Networking is no more a fad than sales and marketing." Since I had just started this little networking organization called BNI[R] (Business Network International), I was hoping that my prediction would prove to be as true as my answer sounded. More than twenty years later, I can confidently say it was. Since that reporter asked me if networking was just a fad, I've written eight books, and my organization has opened thousands of networking groups in dozens of countries across the globe. We have groups speaking almost a dozen different languages, operating on every populated continent of the world. In addition, these groups pass millions of referrals, generating billions of dollars' worth of business for one another. Recently, we've developed a spin-off company (the Referral Institute[R]), which trains people on something that colleges and universities don't-how to network effectively. In just a few short years, this business has expanded to several countries as well.
Twenty years ago, my instincts told me that I was on to something that would stand the test of time, but I didn't have the body of work behind me that I do now. We truly live in a high-tech, high-touch society. The more technologically advanced we become, the more important it is to reach out and touch real people in our work-to connect on a personal level with people. That is what networking is all about.
-Dr. Ivan Misner
Excerpted from TRUTH OR DELUSION? by IVAN MISNER MIKE MACEDONIO MIKE GARRISON Copyright © 2007 by IVAN MISNER, MIKE MACEDONIO AND MIKE GARRISON. Excerpted by permission.
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