Friday, September 13, 2013

Meet Tim Houston, Author and Networking Expert

Timothy M. Houston is the author of the #1 international bestseller, The World's Worst Networker and a contributor to the New York Times bestseller, Masters of Sales.

Crowned The Czar of Networking by CBS Radio, he has positively impacted thousands of business people through his high-energy workshops, motivational presentations, and mentoring sessions held around the world. His latest book is Leads to Referrals.

1. What distinguishes the best networkers from the worst networkers?

First and foremost is attitude. The World's Worst Networkers typically have what I call a "mercenary mentality." They believe networking is all about them. They go to networking events, trade shows, and conferences with a WIFM (What's In It For Me) perspective. They talk about themselves, how great they are, etc. They confuse networking with selling which are two different and mutually exclusive events.

On the other hand, great networkers approach their networking efforts with the attitude and mindset of "How can I help you?" They build relationships by helping others to achieve their goals. They are connectors who build bridges and deepen relationships whereas The World's Worst Networkers through ignorance and/or arrogance end up burning bridges and isolate others.

2. Why aren't more people better at networking?

First, a lot of people tend to confuse or believe that networking is the same selling--whether you are selling a product or trying to sell yourself (as in the case of trying to advance your career). It's not. To me, networking is about building new relationships and enhancing existing ones through engagement with the goal of finding ways to help the people you're networking with without any expectation in return. So people go around and "network" (both in person and online) doing the exact opposite, and then complain that networking "doesn't work."

Second, I don't think anyone is born a "natural networker." Networking is a skill-set that's developed over time. It's just like riding a bike--the more you do it, the better you will become. You can't just do it if you're always sitting behind a computer or if you don't get out there and meet new people or connect with those whom you already know.

3. What inspired your latest book, Leads to Referrals?

Two experiences were the inspiration to Leads to Referrals. The first event is detailed in the opening chapter of the book and tells about a meeting I had with a very successful entrepreneur whose reputation was perceived by clients, family members, and friends as being too successful to need new referrals--so they never referred others to him. The second inspiration came from my own interactions and experiences over the last 16+ years with business people who focused all their efforts on building a large network and then found themselves to be relationship rich, yet referral poor. They found that the people in their networks were not referring business to them.

4. Can you share with us how you helped your new book hit the hot releases page on Amazon?

Leads to Referrals as a paperback and as a Kindle ebook debuted on its release date at #1 in the Hot New Releases for Sales & Selling in the US and Canada. It wasn't an accident. I encouraged my audience to place orders a few months in advance. I had advanced paperback copies printed and gave them to other influencers that my audience typically reads or follows on social media. Several not only endorsed the book but promoted it to their mailing lists, to their readers, and on social media sites. What was interesting about this book launch was that the paperback version of Leads to Referrals outsold the electronic version at a rate of four to one in its first week. So to increase sales for the electronic version, the book was reasonably priced at about 65% lower than the paperback's price, and it was marketed as such.

5. How does helping other people help an individual in his or her own professional life?

The late, great author and sales trainer Zig Ziglar always said "You can get anything you want out of life, if you help others get what they want out of life." It's so true. When it comes to networking, The World's Worst Networker gets it wrong in that they keep score, (i.e. "I referred you or introduced you to someone and now you 'owe me'"). It's not about keeping score; it's about helping others more, more often.

Whether you call it the Law of Reciprocity, Givers Gain, or pay-it-forward, the more people know you truly care about helping them to succeed--be it in business, or in their professional or their personal life--those same people feel compelled to help you in some way.

Thanks, Tim!

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