OK, maybe “learned” isn’t the right word because these were things I already knew, but they were reinforced in 2014. This reinforcement came through talking with great guests on my program on Mile Hi Radio (MHR), as well as reading books, articles, and social media posts and actually talking with people.

This list isn’t in order of importance, especially as they all really tie together. And, while all are important to be successful in business, they’re also important tools for personal success, too. So, here goes…

#5: LISTEN

We’re always told that it’s better to listen to someone you’re talking with, rather than monopolizing the conversation. We all love to talk about ourselves and when you allow someone else to talk about themselves, they’re going to think you’re great!

This was reinforced when I talked with networking expert, Andrea Nierenberg, on MHR. She advocates “listening and learning” as an important part of successful networking. Andrea says that true networking is about giving without worrying about whether or not you’ll receive something in turn. When you actively listen, you will probably learn something new and useful. Active listening includes using your ears and eyes. It also includes being present and truly paying attention to the person who’s speaking.

One additional tip from Andrea: we’re told to maintain eye contact when talking with someone and this can actually be a bit awkward and uncomfortable. Andrea says that rather than staring at someone’s eyes – or the more typical “between” their eyes – look at one eye, then shift to the other one in a bit. People can’t tell that you’re just looking into one of their eyes and you won’t feel like you’re in a staring contest.

#4: ADD VALUE

In Bob Burg’s books and writings about being a “Go-Giver,” he says that one of the keys to having stratospheric success is the Law of Value:

“Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.”

It’s important to note that Bob isn’t talking about giving away everything for free! Rather, he’s talking about the fact that when you provide exceptional value, the compensation will come.

For me, part of adding value is the sharing of information via social media. Obviously, I’m sharing information about social media, but whatever your industry is, you can share useful tips, techniques and resources. And, it shouldn’t be only your “own” information. While you might not want to share info from your direct competitors, you can share information from other experts. But, add your own comments to that information.

When I talked with Mark Schaefer on MHR, he talked about providing “authentic value.” That is, providing value without the expectation of getting something in return. Be helpful just to be helpful. It will pay off.

#3: FOLLOW UP

In the course of doing business, we meet and talk with many people every week. For those who attend several networking events every week, this number can grow exponentially. While we all love to think we’re very memorable, sadly, this isn’t the case!

Following up with someone very much ties into both #1 and #2 from this list: if you were actively listening to someone, you probably have a good reason to follow up with them. Send them a note to congratulate them again on the big new client they talked about, their child’s success in sports, their anniversary…whatever! You get the point. SHOW THEM that you paid attention!

Also, this is a great way to provide value…even if it doesn’t mean business for you. They’ll remember that you were helpful and hopefully when they do need something from you, this goodwill gesture will help keep you top of mind.

How you follow up is just as important as actually doing it. If you’re not connected on LinkedIn, this is a great way to send a Request to Connect. Email is wonderful, but think about a handwritten note. It really will stand out.

Want to really stand out? Send them a short video that you recorded. I use Eyejot, but there are many great resources available.

#2: SAY THANK YOU

When someone takes the time to interact with you, thank them! Debra Jason is really, really good at this concept. She takes the time to personally thank virtually everyone who interacts with her. Even if someone simply clicks the “Like” button on one of her Facebook or LinkedIn posts, she thanks them in a comment!

Does this take time? SURE! But, Debra says it’s more than worth it. It shows the person that Debra was paying attention to them, values them…and they get a warm-fuzzy feeling!

Saying “thank you” also ties into listening, providing value and following up. Don’t just say thank you. Take the opportunity to provide them with information they may find valuable, and again, do it without the expectation of receiving something in return.

Whether it’s through a social media post, video, email or a hand-written note, we all love it when we’re acknowledged for our efforts.

#1: BUILD RELATIONSHIPS

In the end, all of these things tie into one thing: building relationships. Again, to quote Bob Burg:

“All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

I recently read a great article about this concept by Tony Hughes. In The Ten Laws of Relationship Selling, he talks about this in detail.

Every guest, and I do mean EVERY guest, who I interviewed on Mile Hi Radio, talked about the importance of building relationships with people. We do business with people, not corporations. Building relationships takes time and they can also be lost in an instant.

So, for 2015, take the time to listen, add value, follow up and say thank you. You – and your business – will benefit.

What was the best thing you learned in 2014? Share it here!

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