If you are self-employed – Obamacare is not the only option for you

If you are self-employed – Obamacare is not the only option for you

As a Independent Agent /Broker for Healthcare Solutions Team , I work primarily with the self-employed who are looking for affordable health insurance coverage.

Obamacare changed a lot of things for the self-employed in terms of affordable health care coverage. Essentially, under the Affordable Care Act, coverage is good for people who are sick and/or have low incomes and can get government subsidies to lower their monthly premiums.

The group that Obamacare does not work well for are healthy individuals and people who earn too much money – and those who are self-employed in this regard are burdened with high premiums and out-of-pocket expenses. Typically, the self-employed are very busy people who often simply don’t have the time to worry about their health status. They work hard and their families depend on them. However, they would be very exposed if they incurred serious health issues. Also, we find when reaching out to these clients, they are unaware that there are lots of health coverage options coverage options available to them off the market-place that are not only more affordable, but would also give them and their families full health coverage.

For additional information or questions Call , Text or Email me

Tim McCormick

Agent/ Broker Healthcare Solutions Team

251-401-1959

tmccormick@myhst.com

 

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Are you Scaling your Business ?

Most people who start small businesses don’t envision their businesses staying small forever. Even if it isn’t your goal to create a Fortune 500 company, you are likely hoping your profits and clientele will grow after you open your doors. If you are looking for a business with good growth potential, you should consider scalable business ideas, or business ideas that can be quite profitable as they grow.

Definition

A scalable business is a business in which “increased revenues cost less to deliver than current revenues,” according to Briefing.com. In other words, the cost of growing is far outweighed by the resulting profits. Businesses will always have operating costs, but scalable businesses try to keep their variable costs — or the costs incurred with each customer they gain — low. If your business follows a scalable model, your cost per customer won’t increase, even if you gain 100 customers overnight. According to Inc. Magazine’s John Warrillow, scalability also applies to your time. If you operate a scalable business, you don’t have to do all the work. You can take on new clients without increasing your own workload.

I hope you found some Value in this post. If you have questions or would like more information please PM me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/messaging/thread/6298348941410910208/

Organic SEO VS Local SEO – Can You Tell The Difference?

What You Should Know About SEO

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SEO is a rapidly evolving environment and search engines are constantly striving to provide users with the best possible results for their search queries. As of February 27, 2012, Google released an update (more commonly referred to as “The Venice Update”) which established a number of differences between local SEO and organic SEO.

Let’s get one thing strait. Both organic and local SEO are ultimately about providing people with the best possible user experience, no changes here. The differences are more on how those best experiences are calculated for local searches and organic searches.

The key difference between organic and local SEO

To put it simply, all the best practices of Organic SEO (quality link building, high domain authority, outstanding content, social proof, etc.) primarily revolves around your website. If you are a marketing agency, an online retail store or any business that wants to reach consumers from all over the place, then organic SEO is the way to go.

In case of local SEO all the factors contributing to high rankings in local search results (see below) are based around a specific physical location (or a number of locations). Local SEO is primary beneficial for small businesses or businesses that are largely focused around a specific physical location (like a restaurant chain in Boston for example).

Citations vs. links

Links are basically how search engines determine whether your website holds any value for users and their search queries or not.

Think of links as a vote of trust and reliability towards your website. The more votes you have from authoritative websites, the better online reputation you will gain. Needless to say that the quality of links outweigh quantity any day. Quality link building is how you improve your organic SEO.

Citations on the other hand are nothing more than just mentions of your name, address and phone (NAP) in various business listings and directories like Yelp, Yahoo!, Local, etc. The more citations your business has, the more trustworthy your business is for a given region/location in terms of local SEO.

Citations aren’t counted as votes like in the case of organic SEO, but they provide proof that your business exists at a specific geographic location. Depending on a number of factors (Google+ reviews, content quality, domain authority, etc.) you will get a position on local search results.

If your NAP appears in different listings, it’s important to have the exact same information in all of the listings. Inconsistent NAP makes search engines think that your business information is less reliable. Even a slight difference will be seen as confusing: “350 Broadway N#214, NYC” and “N#214 Broadway 350, NYC” are basically the same thing to a human eye, but totally different for search engines.

Local SEO vs. Organic SEO: which is better for your business?

In an ideal scenario, you want to utilize both organic and local SEO, regardless of your business or industry. It will increase your chances to appear on SERPs (search engine result page) and boost your website and NAP visibility, allowing access to as many potential customers as possible .

If you found Value in this information and would like more information as it pertains to your particular Business , contact us at the link below

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The 7 Different Types of Networking Groups

 

All networking groups are not created equal. I’m not saying that one is necessarily better than the others, but your expectations and the rules of engagement are different.

According to the Guru of Networking, Ivan Misner, Founder of Business Networking International (BNI), you should belong to at least three of the below seven different types of networking groups, but not more than one of the same type to maximize your exposure.

Let’s discuss the different types of networking groups, and who should and should not join the different types of groups.

Strong Contact Networking Groups

This type of networking group meets on a regular basis (usually every week). You will be meeting with the same people each week and there may be visitors from time to time. Attendance and the giving and receiving of referrals are strictly monitored. Also, when you are a member of this type of networking group, you will have exclusive dibs on your profession – there will be no one else from your profession allowed to join the group. Any and all referrals for whatever it is that you sell will be given to you. Examples of a strong contact network are Business Networking International (BNI); Le Tip; and Leads Club.

These networking groups tend to meet in the morning before the start of the business day – typically over breakfast. For instance, I am a member of a chapter of BNI and we meet at 7:00am every Tuesday morning.

Who should join? B2B sales agents, self-employed individuals, and small business owners.

Who should stay away? Network marketers who are looking to recruit.

Casual Contact Networking Groups

Your local chamber of commerce is a good example of this genre of networking group. These networking events are usually well attended, but there will be overlap amongst vocations. For instance, if you’re an insurance agent, you will most certainly bump into other insurance agents. The best way to get noticed in this type of networking group is to volunteer for a leadership roll. That way, you will stand out over your competitors. Chambers of commerce are also cool because they tend to have very good workshops.

Who should join? All sales agents, self-employed individuals, and small business owners

Who should stay away? N/A

Community Service Organizations

Rotary Club, Lions Club, Kiwanis, fraternities, sororities, community boards, environmental groups, civil rights / civil liberties groups, and houses of worship all fall under this umbrella. Everyone should join something that supports their community. As the saying goes, “The grass is not greener on the other side. The grass is greener where you water the grass!” Make sure to take care of home first. However, do understand that these organizations were formed for a specific cause – not for getting more customers for your business. However, once you get people to know you, like you, and trust you, you very well may end up doing business with them.

Who should join? Everyone – take care of home!

Who should stay away? Anyone looking to get quick customers. If you are found to be the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing, you’re finished.

Women’s Networking Organizations

These organizations are unique in that they tend to be combinations of two or more of the other kinds of groups. For instance, you have the National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO), but you also have Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD). The first one is for business networking, but the latter is built around a social issue. Also, women’s groups do allow men to join. I myself am a member of the Manhattan Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

Who should join? Sales agents, business owners, freelancers, civic-minded individuals – anyone.

Who should stay away? Men who are looking for dates. Gents, the ladies will see that coming a mile away. You have been warned.

Cocktail Mixer Business Networking Events

These are probably the most prevalent among all networking groups. They are typically held in bars and restaurants, and are usually very well attended. I have met most of my contacts at these type of events. They are the quickest way to build your rolodex. However, only seasoned networkers can really flourish in this environment. More on that at a later date. One thing to be careful about is not to drink too much, and be advised that some will drink to much. Some come looking for a date, rather than seeking business opportunities. Please remember that.

Who should join? Everyone one.

Who should stay away? N/A, but be advised that loud music and alcohol will be two things that you’ll have to contend with.

Professional/Trade Organizations

If you’re serious about your particular profession, you probably should belong to a professional/trade organization. Examples are the Direct Selling Association (DSA), American Medical Association (AMA), National Association of Public Accountants (NAPA), National Court Reporters Association (NCRA), NY Bar Association, etc. Typically, there aren’t very many sales opportunities within a professional/trade organization, but there may be opportunities for joint venturing and/cross-selling.

Who should join? All professionals/tradespersons

Who shouldn’t join? Outsiders (to the profession/trade) looking for a quick sale.

Hybrid Networking Organizations

These are organizations that do not neatly fit into one category. Grassroots Business Network, fits into this category because we are a casual contact networking group, with strong contact network, and community service organization tendencies. Also, the workshops feature uniquely qualified experts in various industries (e.g. wellness, sales, marketing, tax planning, business development, among other topics). Another example of a hybrid networking organization is The Network Marketers Alliance. It is a professional trade organization. They are a casual contact network with very strong professional/trade organization, but it’s networking events tend to have strong contact networking tendencies.

How Online Reviews Through Social Networks Benefit You

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As technology continues to blur the lines between traditional businesses and the Internet, the importance of online reviews is greater than ever; especially when it comes to social networks. Whether you sell a product or provide a service, interaction through your social networks is vital to the growth and expansion of your brand.

Getting your company started out or looking to expand online? Tap into the organic resource of your users and customers to expand online reviews to work for you. Because new customers rely on social networks and online reviews more than ever, you can accurately portray your company and your products quickly.

Want to understand how online reviews through social networks can help your company? Look at our important tips below to expand and grow your brand. It’s simple to say that without online reviews, there’s very little chance of your company succeeding in this day and age.

The importance of online reviews

Customer Interaction – Whether you want to advertise your company or grow your brand, social networks are more powerful than ever. Social networks and online reviews are a great way to get people to talk about your company, and what you have to offer. Tapping into powerful social networks like Facebook, Twitter and Google+ are just a few ways to get customers talking about you.

Social networks are an organic way to engage and drive your brand’s growth. You will enjoy reaching a new clientele and customer base, without having to spend a dime. Having a group of users on social networks to talk about your company can help people learn about who and what you are all about.

Cost Effective – Compared to traditional advertising, social networks and online reviews are far more cost effective. You can enjoy a wide range of reach and exposure without having to spend money or hiring a dedicated marketing company. With just a little bit of work and customer engagement, you can drive your clients to leave positive online reviews for others to read through.

Doing this gives your new customers and new clients a clear cut reason to come to you instead of your competition. Where your competition could waste countless dollars on advertising that may or may not be effective, you’ve got an organic, natural way to reach new customers waiting just for you.

Expanding your Brand – Succeeding in today’s competitive market requires you to grow your brand. Expanding your brand is the single biggest way to ensure that you are relevant not just today but tomorrow as well. When you use social networks and online reviews to grow your company name, you are guaranteeing yourself a customer base for many years to come.

Your company brand is the backbone and lifeblood of your success. Growing your brand is imperative to expansion and continued growth. Use social networks to reach more people and expand your grand through online reviews sooner than later.

Millions of users – Popular social networks like Facebook or Twitter have millions of users that have never heard of you or your company. Unfortunately chances are they won’t hear either, without some action on your part. Learning how to tap into this unbound resource could be one of the last missing links to your company success.

Whereas local advertising through your newspaper, or yellow pages can reach a select group of people, social networks have no boundaries. When you use social networks to engage and drive online reviews, you can equip yourself and your company for ultimate growth.

Erase the lines between the customers and help your company reach those who would have never heard otherwise. Use online reviews to get your social network users on your side and they will pay dividends for you soon.

Organic Growth – Because social networks grow through organic reach by nature, it means your company will reach an organic group of users as well. Often times social networks connect users through common goals or interests, which can really drive up traffic to your website or your business.

Because social networks invest millions of dollars on this kind of focused growth, you can take advantage as well. Having a good base of online reviews gives your company a good way to reach people through common interests or goals.

Although pay per click advertising online can achieve a similar result, you are always limited. Not only must you pay for each engagement, but you aren’t guaranteed of any revenue. Use social networks and online reviews instead to reach customers in an organic method.

Advertising – Having a special or sale through your company is a good way to reach a new base of customers, especially through social networks. Best of all, you don’t need to spend any money to do this, although it could help. All you need is a dedicated account for your business, and carefully crafted call to action elements to help drive and engage new customers to your company.

Giving away a coupon code or holding a contest is something that any social network beginner can do. Without spending any advertising dollars, you can achieve the kind of results that many companies pay thousands of dollars for.

The results you achieve could astound you, and leave you wondering why you never took advantage of social networks before. Tap into the powerful resource that is online reviews through social networks, and realize your company potential today.

These tips are just a few of the real world reasons why you need online reviews and social network engagement to expand your business and your brand. The need for social network interaction is greater than ever in today’s modern business. Don’t let your competition pass you by.

Tap into powerful online reviews posted on social networks to help you reach your financial goals today. If you haven’t gotten your company to use online reviews through social networks, start today to grow your brand and expand your reach today. You’ll grow your customer base, increase your influence and increase your revenue in a way that is especially effective.

5 Essential Networking Tips for Real Estate Agents

5 Essential Networking Tips for Real Estate Agents

Networking is important for any career, but it’s especially important for people in the real estate industry.

A crucial component of a successful real estate career is the ability to make connections and form strong, authentic relationships. People are trusting you to help them with one of the biggest decisions they’ll make. You need to be able to make connections (and keep them).

1. Attend networking events: Going to a networking event is an easy way to meet potential clients and professionals in your industry. Bring your business cards and don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to as many people as possible.

2. Engage in meaningful conversations: When it comes to networking events, quality is better than quantity. You may feel compelled to talk to as many people as possible, but it is actually more beneficial to talk to fewer people but have meaningful conversations with them. It’s much easier to follow up and create relationships when you can reference the conversations you’ve had.

3. Prepare in advance: Prepare your elevator pitch in advance. Know how to describe where you work, what you do, and any hobbies or interests that make you unique. Think about a few questions to ask if you run out of things to talk about. People love talking about themselves and it will show that you are interested in getting to know them.

4. Follow up: After meeting someone, immediately follow up by email to keep the conversation going. If you stay in touch, it’s more likely that you’ll be the first person they think of when they’re in need of buying or selling a home.

5. Participate in your community: Whether it’s joining your REALTORS® association or going to a town meeting, it is good to be active and engaged in your community. Getting out there and making face to face connections will be beneficial your career. This will also allow you to become more familiar with your community, giving you an advantage when it comes to buying and selling in the area.

There is always room to improve how you network. Practice makes perfect. The more your network and make actual, in person connections, the better real estate agent you will be.

‘Power Networking’ for endless real estate referrals

If you’re like most real estate professionals, networking at meetings, ballgames or other events is a core part of your business. Typical agents pass out lots of business cards and seldom hear back from the people they meet. If you’re ready to change that, power networking is for you.

Passing out your business card is usually an ineffective way to prospect. Even if you use a digital version, people forget who you are or can’t find your card when they need your services. If you want to be more effective at converting leads from your networking activities, follow the eight steps below:

1. Your two most important accessories are a smile and your name badge.

Most networking events provide participants with name badges. This is not the case when you attend a sporting event, a luncheon or most social events. To make meeting new people easier at any event, wear your smile and your name badge. When you spot someone you would like to meet, smile and introduce yourself. If the person doesn’t have a name badge, ask, “And your name is?” Your name badge not only makes you more approachable, but it also helps people remember your name since they can see your badge throughout your conversation.

2. Target, question and connect.

Focus on meeting only five to six people at any networking event. Your goal is to build a connection with each individual by discovering what matters most to him or her.

Stand near where they are serving the food and drinks. Next, pay particular attention to the individuals who seem to be the center of a group. These individuals are usually the influencers in the room.

If there are 40 people in the room, how do you determine which five or six you want to meet?”

When an influencer eventually walks over to get more food or another drink, put a sincere smile on your face and introduce yourself. Ask for their card, but do not offer to give them your card unless the person asks for it. Follow up with a question about the person or their business. For example, if you introduce yourself as “John Agent from ABC Real Estate,” quickly follow up by asking questions such as:

  • “How did you get into your business?”
  • “How does your product (or service) differ from that of your competitors?”

This allows the person to talk about what matters to him or her. More importantly, you will stand out from everyone else whose sole focus is on themselves and their business.

If the person does express an interest in real estate, avoid pitching your services. Instead, turn the tables back around by asking the most important question: “How would I recognize when someone is a good client for your services?”

You earn the right to receive referrals when you have established trust and have demonstrated a willingness to help others build their business first.

3. Meet the wallflowers.

If there are 40 people in the room, how do you determine which five or six you want to meet?  Watch for the wallflowers, as well as those standing near the walls. Surprisingly, these individuals often prove to be the organization’s leaders or even the person who wrote the check for the event.

4. Break the ice at nonbusiness events.

If you find yourself tongue-tied about what to discuss, almost everyone enjoys discussing food. If the person cooks, ask about her favorite recipes. People also love sharing where to get the best pizza, burger or another special dish in town. Ask their opinion about what makes their choice the best.

5. Three is an opening; four is even better.

If two people are having a conversation, it’s wise not to interrupt. If there are three or more people in a group, they are probably more in networking mode and more likely to welcome another person to the conversation. If you are part of a group and you see someone standing near you, invite that person to join your conversation. Many people feel awkward about interrupting. They will appreciate your willingness to welcome them into your conversation.

6. Avoid the roving eye.

A major mistake many people make is becoming distracted while they are in a networking conversation. Make sure that your attention is 100 percent focused on the person with whom you are conversing. Avoid looking elsewhere in the room or on your mobile device.

7. Master the art of giving and receiving a compliment.

Whenever possible, give compliments to others. When you do so, dig deeper by asking more about what you complimented. For example, “That was an excellent talk you just gave. How did you become interested in that topic?”

When someone gives you a compliment say, “Thank you.” While this seems obvious, many people brush off compliments from others. A simple acknowledgment is usually the best approach.

8. Know what not to do.

When it comes to networking, keep your focus on others. Avoid telling people, “I’m never too busy for your referrals,” as that puts the focus on you rather than on the other person.

To be more effective in your networking efforts, be curious about what matters to others, strengthen your connection by laser-focusing your attention on your conversational partners, and use a “give-to-get” approach to earn the right to do business with them.

15 Networking Secrets of Successful Real Estate Agents

Networking is only one element of your sales success. But it won’t be effective unless you have a system that reinforces your networking conversation; establishes yourself as an expert via your marketing, advertising and PR efforts; leads to further follow-ups, and ultimately to closing sales.

Ok, well, most of these shouldn’t exactly be secrets. But given how important networking is in the real estate business, it’s still amazing how many agents don’t make the most out of their networking opportunities. Here are some of the best practices  gathered over the years.

Successful real estate agents know how to use networking to their advantage1. Be a card taker, not a card giver. You can have a fantastically successful network event or opportunity and not give out a single card.

2. Elicitation is the craft of gathering intelligence simply by getting people to talk, and by listening. It’s a skill, and intelligence, counterintelligence and law enforcement officials train hard to get good at it. Become a master of the art.

3. Don’t be talking on the phone during networking events and trade shows if you don’t have to. When you’re networking, network. Otherwise, the people who trust their voicemail or have staff taking care of routine inquiries will walk away with all the contacts you should be making.

4. Paid networking events are better deals than unpaid ones. People who pay to join a network are generally more serious. Unpaid networking groups are too frequently broke people trying to sell to other broke people. The only ones that will make money are the debt counselors.

5. See another real estate agent? Smile, say hello, shake hands, and move on. You aren’t there to meet other real estate agents.

6. Take the initiative. Be the first to follow up with your contacts. Just give them a call and get permission to “stay in touch.” That’s all you need at first.

7. Enter all contacts into your Market Leader or other contact management program immediately.

8. Have a plan. You should keep a list of people you want to meet – people you want to transform into customers, mentors and referral sources. These are community leaders, trusted professionals, and the like.

9. Try to create your own “events.” Seminars can take a lot of planning, but people will line up to speak with you after the event if you do it well – and the crowds will usually be relatively free of competing agents.

10. Have a marketing plan to soften up new acquaintances between your phone calls. Your marketing plan should establish you as an expert while maximizing your top-of-mind awareness. If you don’t have a marketing plan, you are wasting too much of your prospecting effort. Marketing is what makes your networking effective. And over time, networking is what will make your prospecting effective.

11. Give more than you get. Go into every event looking to help people. Give referrals. If you are a giver, you’ll get more than your share in return.

12. Don’t hang out with familiar people too much. Make a pact with them that you will both move on to meet new people after five minutes. Make an appointment to get together later, if you must.

13. Keep notes. Talk about their families, needs, professional concerns, etc. The more you know about them, the better you can serve them as an agent. For example, you will know if they have a baby on the way they may be looking for more space in the future. If they just moved into town they may be shopping. If your contact is shortly getting transferred to another city, they may soon be listing a house. If you have an idea when that will occur, you can deliver a well-timed mailer and phone call.

14. Have fun. Seriously. If you’re having fun, people around you will too.

15. Don’t get drunk. You don’t have to be that much fun. Save it for after the closing. With people who aren’t prospects.

In closing, remember that networking is important, but it isn’t the only link in the chain of activities that will make you successful. Everything you do should combine in synergies to make everything else you do more effective.

How to Build a Powerful Professional Network

It is important to know the two Q’s as you build out your network: quality and quantity. But have you considered the importance of having a well-rounded network?

In this job market, having a strong network is critical to your professional survival. There are plenty of tips and articles on where to find people, how and when to connect to them and even what you need to say to attract and maintain your network. This article focuses on who should be in your network.

Here are the top 10 people that should be in your network:

1. The Mentor: This is the person who has reached the level of success you aspire to have. You can learn from their success as well as their mistakes. Heed their wisdom and experience. This relationship offers a unique perspective because they have known you through several peaks and valleys in your life and watched you evolve.

2. The Coach: The coach is someone who comes in at different times in your life. They help with critical decisions and transitions and offer an objective perspective with no strings attached.

3. The Industry Insider: This is someone in your chosen field who has expert-level information or access to it. This person will keep you informed of what’s happening now and what the next big thing is. Invite them to be a sounding board for your next innovative idea.

4. The Trendsetter: This is someone outside of your chosen industry who always has the latest buzz. It can be on any topic that you find interesting. The goal in having this person in your network is to look for those connections that spark innovation via the unconventional. It will also help you keep your conversations interesting.

5. The Connector: This is a person who has access to people, resources and information. As soon as they come across something related to you, they are sending you an e-mail or picking up the phone. Connectors are great at uncovering unique ways to make connections, finding resources and opportunities that most people would overlook.

6. The Idealist: This is the person in your network you can dream with. No matter how “out there” your latest idea is, this is the person who will help you brainstorm ways to make it happen. Without judgment, they are focused on helping you flesh out your dreams in high definition, even if you don’t have a solid plan yet on how to make it happen.

7. The Realist: On the flip side, you still need the person who will help you keep it real. This is the person who will give you the raised eyebrow when your expectations exceed your effort. These are not people who knock down your dreams, rather they challenge you to actively make your dream happen.

8. The Visionary: Visionary people inspire you by their journey. They are similar to the Idealist, but the visionary can help you envision an actual plan to reach your goal. One personal encounter with this type of person can powerfully change the direction of your thinking and life.

9. The Partner: You need to have someone who is in a similar place and on a similar path to share with. In fact, partners do a lot of sharing. This is a person you can share the wins and woes with. Partners will also share resources, opportunities and information.

10. The Wanna-Be: This is someone you can serve as mentor to. Someone you can help shape and guide based on your experiences. One of the best ways to tell that you understand something is to be able to explain it to someone else. And sometimes, one of the best motivators for pushing through obstacles and hardship is knowing that someone is watching.

Obviously you will want to have more than 10 people in your network. The trick is to make sure you are building a diverse network by adding people from different industries, backgrounds, age groups, ethnic groups, etc. … that fit into the roles listed above. Building a deep network by only including people from your current profession or business focus leaves too many stones unturned, limiting potential opportunities.

Serious about building a strong professional network that can actually provide the leverage you need to make progress at work or in your business? Evaluate your current network and get started filling in the gaps.

Happy Networking!

4 Stages for Successful Business Networking

Here are four stages I discovered for creating and maintaining relationships for productive business networking. There are times that you can go through all four stages quickly but more frequently, they just take time.

1-Acquaint: To have a relationship with anyone, you must know them. You can’t miss this stage. You have to know they exist, who they are and what they are about. This step is so important that you will never have any relationship unless you master this step. Most people try to skip this step and they wonder why business networking does not work for them.

Take a moment and think about the person who walks into a networking event, just hands out business cards and waits for the action to start. The action never starts because they missed the first stage. They cry because the only people who contact them are people who want to take advantage of them.

Even if this stage seems obvious to you, there is a lot to improve when you get to know someone. For good reason, we judge people by how they look and we seal that judgement very quickly. In fact, it takes about seven seconds to assess someone and decide whether we will have a relationship with that person.

Stop yourself from deciding so quickly and have a conversation. You will be right most of the time but when you are wrong, that is where business networking works at its greatest. Most of the people who made the greatest impact in my networking journey have come from my persistence to fight off the prejudgment and keep an open mind. I was shocked and surprised by the doors that this first opened and continue to open.

2-Ally: Once you acquaint and you break the ice, you can decide if you want to go to the next stage. It’s often wise not to take too many steps at the same time. It is worth letting things sink in and allowing the relationship to simmer for a bit. There is a chemical reaction every time you put two new things together; imagine what happens when you put two new humans together. I like to walk away and return to the the relationship at a natural second meeting, like another networking event. If I am out of town and I don’t see this happening, I move forward right away, but it’s a judgement call you need to make.

The key to forging an alliance is to find common ground. No matter how different this person may be to you, you might both enjoy coming to networking events and meeting new people, you might both be entrepreneurs, you might even be both human. You never know, though–sometimes I meet people at networking events and I swear they are aliens.

Asking a lot of questions will get you a lot of answers. Talking about your passions after they talk about theirs will build that rapport you need to see if they are interested in your hobbies. Try to stay away from religion and politics . I apply that advice to business networking events as well. Do talk about sports, wine, relationships, business, cars and anything else that excites you! My favorite topic to talk about: ideas. Hit me up with your big idea and we will instantly be allied.

3-Trust: Trust is the foundation of commerce. Every form of exchange needs to have a component of trust.  Trust should be the number one value. A business consultant explained to me that trust is essentially “permission to play”; you need to have trust to be in the game.

When you trust someone you want to do business with them. If you just know someone and you like them but you don’t trust them you probably won’t want to give them your business. Who wants to be let down?

How do you build trust? That’s not easy for everyone, especially those people that have low integrity or are not organized. Yes I said it, when you are unorganized you have a problem with promise management. If you say you will introduce someone and you don’t because you forgot or you are disorganized then your integrity erodes and you don’t have the same level of trust.

There is also a component of trusting others. When you trust others, they tend to trust you too. But the main things is that you want to keep your word, be on time and show people that you mean business. Trust is complex but if you take it seriously you will get people to trust you.

Now you know the person, you like the person and you trust the person. The feelings are mutual but for some reason there is no action? What is missing? The fourth stage is the final key that unlocks the goods.

4-Allow: For some people giving is easier than taking and for others taking is easy and giving is impossible. For you to pass the fourth stage of successful business networking you need to give and take. Allow yourself to give referrals, make introductions and help others. Be open to accepting the help of others. Be prepared and understand your needs so people can connect you and help you in your journey.

Being able to give and take without feeling guilty of accepting or without feeling resentful when you give but don’t get back as expected is the key to unlock the fourth stage of business networking. When you are at this stage you will look around you and feel confident that business networking is a viable key to growth.

Now it’s your turn. In the comments below, take a moment and describe your biggest challenge with business networking. What is working, and what is not working? Let’s have a conversation and grow together!