Steve Harper interview – entrepreneur, speaker, author and business strategist
Steve Harper, often referred to as “Mr. Ripple” is a serial entrepreneur, professional speaker, business strategist and author of The Ripple Effect: Maximizing the Power of Relationships for Your Life and Business. You can Steve at www.ripplecentral.com.
Josh: How do you define Business Networking and why do you feel it is important?
Steve Harper: In my opinion a lot of people have the wrong idea about business networking. They think it all begins and ends with a snazzy business card and a creative “elevator pitch” about what they do and why the complete stranger they are just now meeting for the first time should give a rats you know what about it.
My definition of networking is different. I define it as connecting. Meeting people based on who they are and what they are about not what product or service they sell, represent of simply work for.
Though I agree networking is important, I believe people need to do it better and that means setting aside their professional agendas first to really connect with people as people first. In my opinion, if you do that, huge Ripples and often business will come back to you.
Josh: Can you share a few ideas that someone could put into practice that would help them to improve their business networking skills?
Steve Harper: Put away your business cards (at least at first). Ditch your snappy elevator spiel (forever). Come armed with some engaging questions that give you some insight into who the new people are you are meeting; don’t default to the ‘so what do you do?’ kind of mind-numbing questions.
Allow people to see you for who you are as a person first and then it’s easier for others to let their guard down and be more real with you… that’s when the really good stuff starts to happen! Put on your HEARING ears and really hear what people tell you. Notice I didn’t say listen. There is a difference!
Connect with the individual first before you try and attempt to learn about their business and whether or not they are a possible prospect. Remember, never judge a book by its cover. Although someone doesn’t look like an ideal fit for what you have to offer, people always know people and this world is way smaller than most people think. So never burn a bridge.
Josh: For some people knowing where to go to network in the first place is a problem. Can you share some specific resources, events, or places that you have found helpful for meeting new people and growing your business network?
Steve Harper: Networking can happen anywhere and everywhere. Let’s eliminate that word networking for a minute and replace it with my more preferred Ripple oriented word connecting. My best business connections have come from getting to know people in environments outside of what most people would define as “networking opportunities.”
Whether it be connecting with other parents from your kid’s sports teams, to people you meet out walking the mall to complete strangers who sit down next to you at Starbucks. It is my long-held belief that people are specifically put in our paths for a reason.
The problem is we are so myopic that we often miss those whom we are intended to meet. Pull your head out of that laptop or away from your Blackberry and look around. Make eye contact… smile. Start a conversation with someone, anyone. Start connecting with others and you will surprise yourself how easy it will become and just how many amazing connections you will make along the way.
Josh: Steve, you’re the author of ‘The Ripple Effect: Maximizing the Power of Relationships for Your Life and Business’ — can you give a brief overview of what it’s about, and perhaps share an idea or two from it?
Steve Harper: My book is all about the power of understanding and appreciating the power of connection. Whether you are looking to build a better personal or professional network, you have to be willing to recognize and take action in order for something positive to take place.
People have lost their innate ability to connect (hence why we all go to networking events and network badly) and so if you are willing to take chance and set yourself apart from the rest of the herd, you can discover some amazing connections that will rise up to meet you. And the Ripples that come to your personal and professional life as a result of it will astound you.
Josh: Can you share a personal “networking” success story with us?
Steve Harper: A personal networking story? Hmmm there are so many that I would have a hard time coming up with just one. Not knowing how much space you have, let me just say that running my life with the Ripple Philosophy has brought more people into my life that I never would have had a chance to meet had I not taken a chance.
When I think back to how many different opportunities I have had that have blossomed into something amazing that so easily could have gone no where had I not taken a chance and said “Hello, I’m Steve, what’s your name?” I never would have had the chance to start my first company at age 23.
I never would have landed one of the biggest accounts our company ever landed. I never would have sold my company for more money than I could have ever imagined. I never would have written a book… much less published it. I never would have had the opportunity to speak to tens of thousands of people a year. I never would have found what I was destined to do. I never would have become the Ripple Guy, Mr. Ripple or the Ripple Dude (amazing how many descriptions people have come up to describe me). The list goes on and on.
Is networking important? Sure it is. But connecting… really connecting is so much more important. When two people come together to connect as individuals first, anything, and I do mean, anything can happen!
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