The Fix – Part 5

5.  Structured process

Business people don’t need to be social butterflies to get results from relationship building.  Most business people hate attending networking events and wander around trying to find a conversation to force themselves into.  For the nonsocial butterfly type, traditional networking functions can be torture.  Most business people go to a couple of these meetings and never go back.  The mental toil simply isn’t worth any benefits gained.  A structured process corrects this problem.   A high-quality un-networking event follows a process and a repeatable format that eliminates the need for small talk and social discomfort.  Done right, even the shyest businessperson will be able to build connections at this type of an event.

The Fix – Part 4

4.  Follow Dunbar’s Rule

Anthropologist Robin Dunbar determined that the human brain only has the capacity to process 150 relationships.  This phenomenon is known as Dunbar’s Number.  This could also be called “The Law of Small Structured Groups.”   The brain simply cannot process too many human connections.  A networking group over fifty is too large and loses its effectiveness.

Think of the meaningful relationships in your life.  Where did you meet these people?  Was it in a large group or a small, structured one?  Perhaps you met them in your college class or sorority?  Perhaps you met them at church?  You can be around someone for ten years and never develop a relationship if it lacks structure and intimacy.  The most effective un-networking groups comply with Dunbar’s Rule:  Keep it small and keep it structured.

The Fix- Part 3

3.  Like-minded people

A member of the Sierra Club and a member of the National Rifle Association might both have a “similarity of interest” such as politics.  However, they would probably have polar views on more than a few issues.  In order to create meaningful connections, the group must consist of like-minded people.  Trust is most likely to be built with someone that thinks similarly.  This is not to say it is impossible to create trust with people who have opposing viewpoints, it is just less likely.  Business is notorious for creating strange bedfellows.  However, the right people have to be in the room in order to create a powerful un-networking dynamic.  Ideally, membership should be exclusive and by invitation only.

The Fix- Part 1

2.  Similarity of interests

People like people who are like them.  Business is ecumenical, not in regard to outward appearances or religion but business objectives.  The easiest way to build the “like” part of know/like/trust is to be around people with similar interests and objectives.  At a traditional networking meeting, someone across the table could be very interested in selling a copier; however, you may not be quite as interested.  When an un-networking group follows Step #1, and participants are not trying to sell each other, the focus can move to mutual interests.  This is when trust is built.

Caveat:  interests cannot be too similar.  In particular, networking with competitors trolling the same room builds an environment of distrust.  For relationship building, an environment of complete openness must be fostered.  Ideally, this would include a nondisclosure agreement among the group.

The Fix: Un-Networking

Networking is a myth and speed networking is an oxymoron.  Traditional networking is face-to-face advertising which can be extremely annoying.  What does anyone want from networking meetings?  To develop contacts that matter.  However, the current networking process is broken and will never meet our expectations.

Instead, we need to Un-Network.  We should focus on relationship building, not card flipping.  We need to stop trying so hard to “network.”  It was a dark day when business people started using the word network as a verb.  Un-Networking, or the act of letting a productive network happen as the result of natural relationship building, is the foundation of American business.  Un-Networking works indirectly.  The average person cannot walk up to Donald Trump, shake his hand, and say, “Hi Mr. Trump.  My name is John Smith and I want to network with you.”

In order to break yourself of the networking compulsion, you must find the right people, in the right place, with the right process, and adhere to the right philosophy.  This new model is called Un-Networking.  It contains 11 Essential Elements

1.  Forbid Direct Selling

Relationship building cannot occur if everyone is overtly or covertly selling.  This virtually precludes the building of trust.  Without trust, referrals are simply card flipping.  Sure, there are lots of names for followup.  If someone is bored and needs some work to do, this is fine. However, most business people are looking for meaningful leads, not busywork.  The simplest way to build trust is to be in front of the right people and to stop direct selling.  This may seem counterintuitive.  Businesses selling to other businesses (B2B) tend to be long-term relationship sales.  A strong relationship is a prerequisite to the sale.  The best way to sell more products is in an environment that forbids direct selling.

Just Say NO to Networking

Networking has reached disease status in the contemporary American business landscape.  Networking has become compulsive and damaging to our emotions and a drain on our already time-starved daily lives.  Many business owners and top executives have come to their senses and now refuse to attend networking meetings.  They have attended one too many meetings full of salespeople trying to sell to other salespeople with sellers everywhere, buyers nowhere.  As an executive, walking into a networking meeting feels like jumping into a river full of piranhas.

This briefing will address what is wrong with traditional networking as well as propose an alternative relationship-building format called Un-Networking.

Indy Un-Networking April Meeting

Nothing beats a great steak shared with fellow business owners.  Our topic of conversation was “The 24 1/2 Hour Workday.”  Like all Level 7 meetings, the goal of the meeting was meaningful conversation between the business owners, and not just a presentation.  The business owner Un-Networkers shared many ideas and best practices.  They seemed energized and ready to implement the positive changes.

Long Sales Cycles Require Relationships

Everyone has heard the term relationship sale.  However, many of us quickly forget that relationship sales require a relationship.  The definition of a relationship is someone that knows, likes, and trusts us.  In order to gain the most difficult of these, trust, we must give relationships time.

Trust building takes time and repetition.  Flipping a business card to someone does not build trust.  In fact, done the wrong way, it builds distrust.  My advice is to stop flipping cards and start building trust.  This means more than just “give first, get second.”  It means having meaningful conversations about something other than how you can do business together.

Charlotte Un-Networkers March meeting

48 Charlotte business owners enjoyed a presentation by the author of “The 4 Hour Work Year” today.  Some of the big take-aways were:

  • I am settling for far less from myself than I thought
  • I am grossly under-leveraging my core talent
  • By implementing a couple of the tactics, I could double my income
  • I needed a good fire up and this did the trick
  • I had a hard time coming up with my take-aways, but the other business owners at the table had some great ideas. By hearing what they wanted to do, it got me to the ah-ha I needed.
  • I met a couple great business owners today
  • I love Un-Networking!

Indy Un-Networkers January Meeting

52 Indy business owners enjoyed a presentation by the author of “Return on Energy” today.  Some of the big take-aways were:

  • I am grossly under-leveraging my key reports
  • By implementing a couple of the tactics, I could remove myself from several monthly tasks
  • I needed a good fire up and this did the trick
  • I had a hard time coming up with my take-aways, but the other business owners at the table had some great ideas. By hearing what they wanted to do, it got me to the ah-ha I needed.

Featured Member

Carl Kinker
Carl Kinker
Partner, The Controllership Group

Level 7 Un-Networking