What is a (networking) guru?

August 29, 2009

Last month I was mentioned as an example of a successful business guru in the Belgian magazine Vacature (if you speak Dutch, you can read the whole file online).

When the journalist Nico Schoofs approached me for the interview, I told him I didn’t consider myself a guru, that the word had a negative image for me and that he might want to interview someone else. After he insisted I asked him for a few days of “thinking time”.

When I spoke about this situation with my coach, he asked me what the negative image was that I had of gurus.

I told him that this was the image in my mind: a person with a lot of people blindly following him/her, enjoying the adoration (even manipulating them) and deliberately leading some kind of a cult.

When my coach then asked me: “So that’s the image of a real guru to you?” I answered: no, for me a REAL guru is someone who is followed by people kind of against his/her will, who doesn’t have any hidden agendas, whose messages resonate with people so they consciously (not blindly) choose to read their books or attend their speeches or seminars, while still making their own decisions and have their own ideas.
A REAL guru is someone who is pure and authentic. Someone who walks the talk. Someone who is an expert in their field, willing to learn from other experts. Someone who is humble about the fact they only are an expert in one domain and still have to learn so much from others. And most of all, a REAL guru is someone who lives up to their potential, is in sync with themselves and is grateful for everything life has already offered to them.

“So,” my coach answered. “Maybe this is an invitation to become a real guru yourself then.”

When he spoke those words, something happened with me. On the one hand I realized that I am far from being a REAL guru, that I have still so much to learn, that there are still so many conscious and subconscious patterns to be dealt with, in short that it is an almost impossible goal to achieve. On the other hand it felt like a call to live up to my potential and to become more of the real “me”.

After our conversation I went back to the journalist since he was the one who “channeled” this invitation to become more of the real me and told him I agreed to be interviewed. I also asked him if it was possible to change the word “guru” into “expert” since that is still the word that I feel more comfortable with today. (But apparently “guru” sounds better in media than “expert” :-))

When he asked me in the interview if everybody could become a guru, I answered him: “Yes, if they become more the real “themselves” and follow their passion and heart, everybody can become a guru.”

“But why aren’t there so many gurus out there then?” he asked me.

Because most of us don’t have the courage to make choices, to choose a field of expertise that really resonates with us and make the time and effort to pursue that dream and potential that is inside of us. It is the fear of not having enough.”

And although it might seem like that at first, I personally can testify that in the long run it is really worth the while, not because of the material success, but of the person you become, the real you.

So my question to you, dear reader, is: when do you make the choice to become a real guru, to become more of you?

With much love, passion and gratitude,


PS: thanks John for your wise words and encouragement! And thanks Ann for keeping me on the path of becoming more of me and not of becoming a “fake guru”!


LinkedIn Secret: Direct Contact Is Still Possible Despite Invitation Filtering

August 26, 2009

Time for another “LinkedIn Secret”: direct contact is still possible despite invitation filtering.

How is this possible?

On the “Account & Settings” page under “Email notifications/Invitation filtering” you can choose who is allowed to contact you:

1. All invitations (default).
2. Only invitations from people who know my email address or appear in my “Imported Contacts” list.
3. Only invitations from people who appear in my “Imported Contacts” list.

Some people choose option 2 or 3 so they will receive only invitations and messages from people they know.

However, they still can receive messages from people they don’t know. From whom? From the members of the Groups they are a member of.

There is also an option to turn off to receive messages from other members, but standard this option is “on”. You also have to change that for every Group you are a member of.

If you want to do that, go to “Groups”, choose a Group, then under the tab “Settings” check off the Member Messages box “Allow members of this Group to send me messages via LinkedIn “.

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn (of in het Nederlands: Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken). Make sure you download your FREE light version.

Fundamental Principle of Networking 3: The REAL Power of the Network is in the Second Degree

August 19, 2009

When people think about networking and how it can help them they think: I have to have the right people in my network. Your own network is called your first degree network (on LinkedIn you also see the number 1 next to the name of a person to whom you are connected yourself).

Thinking that the power of the network is in the first degree is one of the largest barriers for people to really achieve their goals.

The real power of the network is not in who you know, but in who they know. The real power of the network is in the second degree. There are many more opportunities there.

Of course you need the first degree to reach the second degree, so the first degree is still very important.

Understanding that the real power of networking is in the second degree also helps to deal with your network and the people you meet in a different way. You don’t have to do business with them. You don’t have to “sell” yourself to them.

If you understand that the power of the network is in the second degree you can have other kinds of conversations. You can take the time to get to know each other a little bit better and see how you can help each other towards each other’s network.

How many people do you meet that you think: “No matter how nice this person is, I will never do business with him or her because we are in totally different industries, geographic areas or functions. Let’s end this conversation as fast as I can so I can start talking to someone who is really interesting to me.”
But you never know who they know. If you make time to have a longer conversation, ask them what or who they are looking for and share what your goals are, you might be very surprised.

Also by getting the “direct or hard selling” part out of the way (and this doesn’t only apply to sales people but also to people looking for a new job or a new employee) with the person you are talking to, networking becomes more relaxed and more fun.

One of the biggest advantages of LinkedIn is that it helps to leverage this power of the second degree. What makes LinkedIn the fantastic tool it is, is that it shows you the network of your network. LinkedIn shows the second and third degree contacts together with ALL the connections you have with them.

Understanding this concept and being able to apply it, will be the single most important success factor for you on LinkedIn.

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn (of in het Nederlands: Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken). Make sure you download your FREE light version.

Network Event Of The Month

August 15, 2009

August 27 is the day for the third edition of In Shape for September.

10 top speaker  from Flanders will inspire the participants to get their career, business or themselves to the next level in order to make the last trimester of the year the best ever.

These are the topics and the speakers (note: the whole program is in Dutch):

– Managing Without Time (Paul Meert)
– How to think like Da Vinci (Bernhard Lernout)
– I-CPI (Patrick Maes)
– Value Thinking in Business (Peter Coeckelbergh)
– The Real Life Experience as a real CEO (Tony Mary)
– Hoe hoog leg jij de lat? (Wim Vandeven)
– Stilte ik spreek (Sylvie Verleye)
– Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken (Jan Vermeiren)
– Survival of the Smartest (Bert Verdonck)

By the way, this day won’t only be an inspirational one, but also a super networking day!.

More information and registration: www.in-shape-for-september.be.

Have a great networking day !


How to REALLY use LinkedIn to Find Customers and Prospects in 8 steps

August 12, 2009

If you are looking for new customers or prospects or ways to increase your sales or know someone who does, then check out this Mind Map How to REALLY use LinkedIn to find new customers in 8 steps.”

Feel free to share !


Jan Vermeiren is the founder of Networking Coach and networking and referral speaker

Interview With Business Relationships Expert Thom Singer

August 8, 2009

In this episode of “Interviews with networking experts from all around the world” an interview I did with Thom Singer, author of several networking books like ABC’s of networking, Some Assembly Required and Networking Unplugged at the NSA convention in Phoenix, USA.

Listen to the interview of Thom Singer, Business Relationships and Networking Expert by Jan Vermeiren. (6.30 min)

Enjoy !


Author of networking book Let’s Connect! and How to REALLY use LinkedIn

LinkedIn Myth: No One Has Contacted Me Yet So LinkedIn Is A Useless Tool

August 5, 2009

Time for busting another LinkedIn myth: No one has contacted me yet. So LinkedIn is a useless business tool.

On the contrary! LinkedIn is a super tool, which helps you to find the people who are in the best position to help you reach your goals, whatever they may be.

However, many people think that if they make a Profile other people will contact them. When I ask the people who complain about this if they ever contacted someone themselves almost all of them remain silent.

Does that mean that LinkedIn doesn’t work? No! If you use the strategies explained in “How to REALLY use LinkedIn” to proactively use LinkedIn, it can quickly bring you new customers, a new job, new employees, suppliers, partners, expertise,…

Remember that if you want to see some results, you are responsible for them. You have to take action. And LinkedIn is a great tool to support you.

To your success !


PS: this is an excerpt from the book How to REALLY use LinkedIn (of in het Nederlands: Hoe LinkedIn nu ECHT gebruiken). Make sure you download your FREE light version.

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