There are tried-andâ€“true networking techniques that are so simple it seems they cannot be really effective. Many times we try to re-evaluate, improve upon and complicate them.Â An experience I had once while on vacation reminds me of how we try to make some things harder than they really are.
I was in Hawaii enjoying the surf when, unbeknownst to me, the water became thick with Portuguese Men o’ War.Â Suddenly I felt a stinging sensation across my chest. I wiped my chest with my right wrist and arm and lifted my arm up out of the water. I saw the tentacles dripping off my arm and followed the tentacles with my eyes about eight feet away to the body of the Man o’ War. With mounting alarm, I shook the tentacles off my wrist back into the water and quickly swam out of the surf to the shore.
I ran up to the first hotel employee I saw, a cabana boy who was serving drinks to a sunning couple just off the pool deck and urgently exclaimed, â€œI think Iâ€™ve just been hit in the chest by a Man o’ War jellyfish!Â What should I do??â€
â€œAre you feeling any pressure in your chest?â€ he wanted to know.
â€œNo, none at all,â€ I replied anxiously.
â€œOkay, okay, hereâ€™s what you need to do. Go on over to the market off the lobby and ask for some vinegar and meat tenderizer. Youâ€™re going to want to spray the vinegar onto your chest and then shake the meat tenderizer onto the same spot and rub it all around. Youâ€™ll be fine,â€ he assured me.
Well, I must say that I was less than impressed with this bizarre advice. The cabana boy was entirely too calm and offered what was entirely too easy a solution to be effective â€“ not to mention that it was just plain strange. I figured he was doing a version of â€œletâ€™s goof on the tourist,â€ so I moved on to ask someone else for help.
I spotted a hotel employee standing not too far off and gingerly jogged over to him, urgently repeating my exclamation, â€œIâ€™ve just been hit in the chest by a Man oâ€™ War jellyfish; what should I do?!â€
He said, â€œAre you feeling any pressure in your chest?â€Â Oh boy, I thought, next heâ€™s going to tell me to get some meat tenderizer!Â I thought he was kidding, or maybe I was in a bad dream and just couldnâ€™t wake up.
â€œNo, Iâ€™m not feeling any pressure in my chest,â€ I reluctantly responded.
â€œOkay, then go over to the market off the lobby and ask for some vinegar and meat tenderizer.Â You have to get that on your chest and rub it around and then youâ€™ll be just fine,â€ he said reassured.Â I felt anything but reassured.
By this time, I thought that maybe I better find someone who might really know what to do.Â I headed up to the lobby, thinking that the hotel manager would be a good choice to get a straight answer from.
There at the front desk was a mature gentleman wearing a badge that read: â€œHotel Manager.â€ Surely, I thought, this guyâ€™s not going to â€œgoof on the tourist.â€Â I walked up to him and repeated my mantra about the jellyfish strike.Â He looked at me with grave concern and said, â€œAre you feeling any pressure in your chest?â€
â€œNo,â€ I replied, â€œIâ€™m not feeling any chest pain.â€
â€œOK, good,â€ he said.Â â€œYou need to go down the hall to the small market and get some vinegar and meat tenderizer and put them on one at a time and rub them thoroughly into your chest.â€
Finally, I said what Iâ€™d been thinking all alongâ€¦ â€œYou canâ€™t be serious, right?â€Â This is a joke, right?â€
â€œNo.â€ He reassured me that this was not a joking matter. It was clear that I needed to proceed to the store immediately and apply that remedy.
I reluctantly trucked down the hall to the store just knowing that they were all back there laughing at the goofy tourist who was actually going to do a self-imposed â€œmeat rubâ€ on his chest.Â I was sure they had some barbecue grill going for when I returned to the lobby all slathered up with vinegar and meat tenderizer.
I entered the small market off the lobby and started my search for char-grilled products when I started feeling short of breath.Â Suddenly, very quickly and forcefully, I began to experience a crushing weight on my chest.Â Was I having a heart attack?Â Great!Â Iâ€™m having a coronary after wasting so much time talking to members of the hotel staff, who were trying to get me to rub meat tenderizer on my chest.Â I walked out of the store and staggered to the front desk, which by now was very busy with new guests checking in to the hotel.Â I made eye contact with the hotel manager and almost immediately, dropped to the ground, clutching my chest, barely able to gasp â€œMan oâ€™ War!â€
What happened next was a total blur.Â I seem to remember a small child yelling and pointing at me as I lay there in my bathing suit, gasping for breath.
â€œLook mommy, thereâ€™s a man on the floor.â€Â The mother said something about staying away from people who do drugs.Â I looked over and tried to say no, not drugs â€“ jellyfish! But all that came out was gibberish.
The paramedics rushed to the scene.Â Finally, I was going to get the medical attention I needed. After determining what had happened, the paramedic opened his life-saving kit and I knew he was about to pull out a defibrillator.Â I made my peace with God and I braced myself for the big jolt.Â Instead, he pulled out â€“ yes, you guessed it â€“ vinegar in a spray bottle and some Adolfâ€™s meat tenderizer!Â He then proceeded to spray the vinegar and then sprinkle the meat tenderizer on my chest, and thoroughly rub the mixture around.Â Within seconds, literally seconds, the excruciating pain began to subside. Within a couple minutes it was almost completely gone.
What I thought was a big â€œbarbecue jokeâ€ on the tourist turns out to be a well-known cureÂ for someÂ jellyfish strikes.Â You see, the meat tenderizer contains the enzyme papain, which breaks down the toxin proteins and neutralizes them.Â It sounds too simple to be really effective, but it is, in fact, one of the best things to do in that situation.
Thinking back on it, I am amazed at how many people gave me the solution before I had to learn the hard way. Sure,whoâ€™s going to believe a cabana boy?Â I mean, what does he know, right?Â And the hotel employee â€“ OK, maybe thereâ€™s the start of a pattern here but, I have a doctoral degree â€“ Iâ€™m â€œsmart,â€ and these guys have just got to be kidding meâ€¦ right? And then the hotel manager as wellâ€¦ OK, I admit it, at that point thereâ€™s just no excuse. I should have figured out these guys knew what they were talking about and I did not.
I made one of the biggest mistakes that people in business make â€“ I didnâ€™t listen to the people who have experience. I assumed that I just had to know betterâ€¦ and the truth is, I didnâ€™t know better.
There is nothing like experience. It beats education every day of the week. The only thing better is a combination of education and experienceâ€¦ or a willingness to learn from other peopleâ€™s experience. There are many basic referral marketing and networking techniques that any good businessperson knows to be effective. They donâ€™t try to look for something more complicated or involved, because they know from their own experience, as well as the experience of others, what works in business and what doesnâ€™t work in business.
Throughout your life you may read things that seem too simple to be effective or may see ideas that youâ€™ve heard before.Â Donâ€™t dismiss them.Â Embrace them.Â Although these ideas may be simple â€“ they are not easy.Â If they were easy, everyone would do them â€“ and they donâ€™t!Â Great networkers learn from other peopleâ€™s success.Â So, go get that vinegar and meat tenderizer and learn from other â€œmastersâ€ that sometimes the simplest ideas can have the biggest impact.
Called the father of modern networking by CNN, Dr. Ivan Misner is a New York Times bestselling author.Â He is theÂ Founder and Chairman of BNI (www.bni.com), the worldâ€™s largest business networking organization.Â You can read more of his material on his blog at www.BusinessNetworking.com.Â Dr. Misner is also the Sr. Partner for the Referral Institute, an international referral training company (www.referralinstitute.com)
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