10 Tips to Get the Most from Business Networking

We all know that networking requires a significant amount of time, effort, and commitment.  Because of that, we all want to make sure that we’re getting the highest return on investment from our networking efforts.  Below, I have outlined 10 tips that will help you get the absolute most from the time you spend networking for your business.

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  1. When asking for a referral from an associate or client, use the phrase, “Who do you know who . . .?”  This is an open-ended question that works well.  Do not alter the phrase.  Ohter phrases have been tried, but none have produced the desired results.
  2. Have someone else tell a group of people how good your product or service is.  This beats anything you can say about yourself.  Ask people who have used your products or services to talk about their experience at the next meeting.
  3. Top business executives insulate themselves from those who may try to sell them products or services.  Through word of mouth you can still increase your volume of business, because you know a hundred people, who know a hundred people, who in turn know a hundred people, and so on.  The great referrals are probably not going to come from a CEO, but from someone who knows a CEO.
  4. If you have an opportunity to distribute your materials, do it.  Bring products, samples, brochures, or a presentation book to the business meetings you attend.  If people can see, feel, touch, hear, or smell samples of the product or service you provide, they are more likely to use you.
  5. Offer a special price or service to the members of your networks.  If you can get the members to use you, they are much more likely to refer you.
  6. Anyone active in networking groups can benefit by developing a presentation book, taking it to meetiings, and making sure it gets circulated.
  7. If your product or service is conducive to this approach, tell the members of your network that you accept speaking engagements as bona fide referrals.  Ask them to pitch you to the program chair of other organizations they belong to.
  8. Meet people outside the meeting context whenever you can.  Write cards or letters, send articles that might be of interest, call to check in, and let them know about local business mixers.
  9. To get good referrals, tell people when they’ve given you a bad referral.  If you don’t, you’ll keep getting bad referrals.  Teach people what you consider to be a good referral.
  10. Monitor the referrals you get.  This tells you how often you get referrals, their source, quality, status, and dollar payoff.  Having this information helps you focus on individuals and groups who are giving you the best referrals.  This allows you to reciprocate with people who are giving you the most referrals.

Do you have additional tips for networkers to get the most from business networking?  I’d love to hear your ideas–please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!


‘Full-Calorie’ Networking vs. ‘Networking Light’

A while back, I published a blog about networking and, in it, I mentioned that the networking organization I founded, BNI®, is structured around weekly networking meetings.  In response to that blog post, a gentleman wrote to me saying how much he loved the idea of networking meetings and everything about the concept of networking for business appealed to him, but that he just absolutely didn’t want to have to commit to going to a meeting every week.  He proposed that a once-a-month BNI meeting would be much more appealing.

In this video, I detail my response to this gentleman’s proposition of monthly, as opposed to weekly, networking meetings–in other words, his suggestion that networkers should have a ‘Networking Light’ option as opposed to going for the ‘Full-Calorie Networking’ system.

Suffice it to say, opting for ‘Networking Light’ has never done anyone any favors, and my secret to success in business and life (which I share in this video) has a lot to do with never cutting corners or skimping when it comes to my daily recipe for goal achievement.

I’d love to hear your feedback on this video!  What has your experience been in weekly networking groups vs. networking groups that meet much less often?  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

How to Combat the Fear of Failure

We all deal with the fear of failure from time to time.  I know I certainly do.  It’s a part of life and it can sometimes cripple us to the point where we’re so afraid of failing at something that we’d rather not even try.  So, what can we do about it?  How can we move past it in order to achieve our greatest goals, dreams, and desires?

Well, the answer is simple.  We stop worrying about whether or not we are going to fail because–guess what?–we very well may and that’s okay!  It’s inevitable; we are all going to be successful at some things and we’re going to fail at other things.  The key is to refuse to define ourselves by our failures and commit instead to both learning from our failures and defining ourselves by our successes.

In this video, I tell a personal story about a time when I was virtually frozen in fear because I was so preoccupied with the prospect of failure, and I explain how it helped me to realize the key to combatting the fear of failure.  The fact is, if we always try, we can eventually win.  But if we let fear keep us from even trying, we will fail without a doubt.

Is there something that you currently want to accomplish, big or small, but haven’t attempted to start because you’re afraid of failing?  If so, make a list of one action you can take each day (no matter how small) for the next week which will help get the ball rolling and move you toward accomplishing what you want to do.  Then, when the week is over, repeat the process of mapping out and completing small daily actions every coming week–before you know it, you will have made real progress!

If you have a story about a time fear of failure stopped you from doing something, or a time you overcame your fear of failure and accomplished something important to you, please share it in the comment forum below–I’d love to hear from you!

James Barber–“The Networking Guru”

Just last week at the BNI® U.S. National Conference in Savannah, Georgia, I had the opportunity to have a brief chat with James Barber, author of The Networking Guru.  In this video, I ask James to offer a suggestion or two on how networkers can stand out during weekly presentations in their networking group in order to increase their effectiveness at consistently obtaining referrals from their networking partners.

James reveals his top tip for helping your fellow networkers (i.e., your sales team) to focus and really narrow in on how they can refer you, and he tells a powerful story about a North Carolina business woman who used his top tactic and was so successful that he still finds it amazing when he thinks about the results she got.

Watch the video now to learn how you can stand out and be remembered in order to make it easier for those with whom you network to refer you.  I guarantee that if you incorporate James’ advice into your networking presentations and interactions, you will start to see a significant improvment in your referral marketing results and a noticeable increase in the amount of referrals you’re able to generate.

After watching the video, please share your thoughts.  And, if you’ve had previous experience using the tactic we discuss for generating more referrals, I’d love to hear how it worked out for you–please share your story in the comment forum below.  Thanks!


Classic Video: How to Invest Your Time and Money for the Highest Return

I have been doing video blogs for quite a few years now and a while back it occurred to me that some of the videos I’ve previously posted focus on timeless topics that deserve to be revisited and not buried way back in the video blog archive.  For this reason, I decided to occasionally feature a “classic” video blog from my blog archive and today I am sharing the fifth one–”How to Invest Your Time and Money for the Highest Return.” In this video, I talk about how to invest time and money into your business in the way that will ultimately pay the highest return–education.

Many businesses fail within their first three years of existence because they only pay lip service to education yet aren’t willing to invest the time, effort, and money into learning about how to continually grow and develop in order to achieve the business goals and the vision they outlined for themselves at the start.

The fact is, people who immerse and engage in a culture of learning are much, much more successful than those who don’t. Watch the video now to learn about an action you can take this week that will help you measure whether or not you’re investing enough of your time and money into what will truly help your business earn more and achieve more. 

I’m quite interested in hearing your thoughts on this video, your comments about what you currently do in order to invest in educating yourself to build your business, and also your results from carrying out the action item I explain at the end of the video.  Please leave your feedback regarding any or all of these things in the comment forum belowThanks!

Success through Profitability & Abundance

In this brief video filmed at a recent TLC (Transformational Leadership Council) conference, I talk to my good friend Raymond Aaron about our respective contributions to the newly revised version of Jack Canfield’s book THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES.  

I am beyond honored to have been asked to contribute to the book and, because of that, I wanted my portion of the book to focus on the most valuable, useful, beneficial information I could possibly offer within my field of expertise.   That information is the concept of the VCP Process®–how to build visibility and credibility to ultimately achieve longlasting success through profitability.

Raymond, a world renowned success coach, offers eye-opening information about what blocks us from enjoying success through abundance and how to overcome those road blocks.

Have you read THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES?  If so, I’m eager to hear your thoughts on the book in general or on a specific section or sections which resonated with you the most.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

For more information on THE SUCCESS PRINCIPLES, please visit: www.TheSuccessPrinciplesBook.com.

“Glimpses of Heaven on Earth”–Improve Your Business & Your Life

In this video I talk to my friend and fellow TLC (Transformational Leadership Council) member, Martin Rutte about Martin’s new book, Glimpses of Heaven on Earth.

Watch the video now to learn about Martin’s ideas on how we can all focus on ten fundamental values and take small, simple, easy, concrete steps on a daily basis to mold our own life into one that mirrors our individual idea of heaven on earth in all aspects from business to relationships to personal purpose and more.

After watching the video, think about what one action you might take within the next 24 hours to move yourself forward with beginning to implement Martin’s strategy for improving your business and/or life in general.  We’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas so please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks so much and, as always, thank you for watching!

For more information on Martin and his new book, please visit www.ProjectHeavenOnEarth.com.



Learning to Use the Law of Reciprocity

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici

Put simply, the law of reciprocity in networking means that by providing benefits (including referrals) to others, you will be creating strong networking relationships that will eventually bring benefits (especially referrals) to you, often in a very roundabout way rather than directly from the person you benefit.  This makes the law of reciprocity an enormously powerful tool for growing your own business’s size and profitability.  Below you will find four very important things to remember as you learn to use the law of reciprocity in your networking efforts.

Tip No. 1–Giving means helping others achieve success. What is your plan to contribute to others? How much time and energy can you spare for this? Do you actively seek out opportunities to help people? You could volunteer to help out with something that’s important to someone in your network, offer advice or support in time of need, or even work hard to connect someone to a valuable contact of yours.

Tip No. 2–The person who helps you will not necessarily be the person you helped. Zig Ziglar says, “If you help enough people get what they want, you will get what you want.” In other words, what goes around comes around. If you focus intently on helping others, you will achieve success in the end.

Tip No. 3–The law of reciprocity can be measured. It is a myth that networking cannot be measured and, in my latest book, Networking Like a Pro, my co-authors and I use the Networking Scorecard Worksheet, part of the Certified Networker Program offered through the Referral Institute, to measure networking. If you apply the law of reciprocity, you will see your weekly total networking score gradually rise.

Tip No. 4–Success takes getting involved.  You have to do more than simply be present to be a successful networker. If you join a chamber of commerce, become an ambassador. If you join a BNI chapter, get involved in the leadership team. If you join a civic organization, get on a committee. The law of reciprocity requires giving to the group; it will pay you back many times over.

A master networker understands that, although networking is not the end but simply the means to growing a business, service to your network of contacts must always be uppermost in your networking activities. Once you have established a solid reputation as someone who cares about the success of others, the law of reciprocity will reward you with an abundance of high quality referrals.

The Success Principles

In this video, I talk to my good friend Jack Canfield about Jack’s just-released updated edition of his bestselling book, “The Success Principles.”

Watch the video now to hear the truly amazing story of a man whose life was completely transformed as a result of following the principles in Jack’s book and to get both  Jack’s take  and my take on what it takes to be truly successful in any given area of life.

if you’ve read the earlier edition of Jack’s book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Please share your feedback in the comment forum below. Thanks!

To learn more about the newly released edition of “The Success Principles,” please visit www.TheSuccessPrinciplesBook.com.

Why Wait for Business? Go out and Get It!

Photo courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of pakorn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The best referral efforts I’ve seen happen by design, not by accident or wishful thinking.  Many business people view referral generation somewhat like the weather: “Sure, it’s important, but what can I do about it?”

Referrals and business networking efforts can be planned and nurtured.  Anyone, including business owners, entrepreneurs, sales representatives, staff employees, even individuals serving in a volunteer capacity in any field, can accomplish plenty with a well-structured and systematically executed referral plan for a business.

All too often I have seen business people waiting for business to walk through the door.  They think because they are good at what they do, people should be flocking to them. I’m afraid the truth is, it doesn’t work that way! You have to take charge, no matter what business you’re in or how good you are, and bring the business in to you.

I once saw a cartoon strip of two large, ravenous-looking vultures perched on a tree limb, overlooking a dry desert plain. After quite a while, one vulture turns to the other and says, “Wait for something to die? Hell, let’s kill something!” So it is with referral marketing. You can’t simply wait for people to come to you. If you do, one of your competitors who also provides good customer service will most likely find them before they show up at your door-step.  If you want to succeed, you have to go get your business, or better yet, have someone else get it for you through referrals.

So . . . don’t wait around.  Do something!  Think of three things you can do this week to actively strengthen your referral marketing efforts and please feel free to share your ideas in the comment forum below–you never know whom your great ideas might help!

The Top 7 Things I’ve Learned from 30 Years of Heading the World’s Largest Business Networking Organization


BNI’s Official 30th Anniversary Commemorative Logo

30 years ago this past Thursday, I put together about 20 people in a small coffee shop in Arcadia, California for the very first meeting of BNI® (Business Network International).  The organization was run from a small bedroom which was converted into an office inside my house in La Verne, California.

The House Where BNI® Began

The House Where BNI® Began

I am humbled by the fact that today the organization has over 7,000 chapters in 60 countries with over 170,000 members world-wide.  In addition, we have over 30 BNI staff at HQ and more than 3,000 BNI Directors and Director Consultants working for the organization!

I don’t believe any of the two dozen or so people who were present at that first meeting fully realized that this was the beginning of something amazing. 

That realization came to me almost a year later between Christmas and New Years as I looked back in amazement at having opened up 20 groups during the year.  At this point I recognized I had struck a chord within the business community.  We don’t teach networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world, and business people are hungry for referrals. They simply had no viable way to generate them regularly back in 1985.  It was during that week that I sat down and put together the outline for a plan that has evolved into what BNI is today.

I was recently asked by a BNI Director what the secret to this growth was.  I’ve taken some time to write down some of the key factors I think contributed to our success as my answer to his question.  These are factors you won’t find in most business books, and they weren’t taught to me in graduate school.  But I think they were critical to our success in this organization and they may be relevant factors to you, too.

BNI's Current Headquarters Building in Southern California

BNI’s Current Headquarters Building in Southern California

Lessons I Learned in Developing BNI:

  1. Set Goals. I know – everyone says “set goals,” but let me give you a slight variation to this concept.  I recommend you set three levels of goals.  By setting goals in this manner, you give yourself some flexibility in where you want to go over the next year (or years).
    1. High – set a goal that is a stretch. This is one that will be very difficult to reach, but it is definitely possible.
    2. Target – set a goal that you are confident you can reach. It won’t be easy, but it is definitely possible.
    3. Low – set a goal that if everything goes wrong, you are still confident you can reach this.
  2. Reverse engineer your goals. At each level above – where do you want to be at the end of twelve months from now?  That number would be 100% of your annual goal.  Now reverse that.  At nine months you should be at 75% of that goal.  At six months, you should be at 50% of that goal.  At three months, you should be at 25% of that goal.  Check your progress every month.  Stay on track.
  3. Do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times! I think one of the big mistakes businesses make is that they jump from one bright shiny object to another. For me, success has come by being like a “dog with a bone!”  I have taken techniques that I’ve seen work, and then I’ve done them over and over and over and over.  Six things, a thousand times.
  4. Create a larger vision. It’s never too early or too late to create a larger vision.  Create something that is a unifying concept for you, your employees, and possibly even your clients – something that resonates with people and creates a long-term vision for the company.  For BNI this began with our philosophy of “Givers Gain.”  It has been inculcated throughout the organization and has been the guiding force of our referral-marketing program.  It led to our vision statement of “Changing the Way the World Does Business” which is all about businesses collaborating and cooperating through our philosophy.
  5. Maintain personal engagement. As a company grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to be personally engaged in every aspect of the business.  That means you must make choices.  However, you must continue to be personally engaged as much as possible.  Technology has enabled me to stay engaged with members and directors (through my visitations, video messages, this newsletter, my blog, the BNI Podcast, our social media, and BNI Connect, to name a few). Nothing replaces personal engagement.  The more you remain engaged, the more your vision can thrive.
  6. Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice. One thing I’ve learned over the last 30 years is that I can teach people “how” to do something (including network).  I can’t teach them to have a good attitude, and I don’t have time to send them back to Mom to get retrained.  The only thing better than “ignorance on fire” is “knowledge on fire.”  If I can take someone who is on fire and teach that person how to succeed, our organization becomes unstoppable.
  7. Do what you love, and you’ll love what you do. As a business person, you are either working in your flame or working in your wax.  When you are in your flame, you are on fire.  You are excited and energized.  When you are working in your wax, you are drained and fatigued.   As a company grows, it is easy to get caught up doing more and more in your wax.  Find out what your flame is, and then do your best to work more in that flame.  Find people whose flame is your wax and put them in the roles you no longer love doing.  This will free you up to work in your flame.

I’d love to hear any thoughts, questions, suggestions, or observations that you might have about the BNI organization whether you’re a member of the organization or not and I’d also really like to hear any key lessons or tips for success which you’ve learned through your own experience in the world of business.  Please share your thoughts, etc. in the comment forum below–thanks!  






How to Persevere in the New Year

My good friend Julien Sharp is a brilliant editor who has worked on a countless number of writing projects for me and done a top-notch job. She is also founder of Funnybone Toys® and Funnybone MuseTM, a fantastic networker and businesswoman, and an exceptional author who contributed a great article entitled “From Mickey Mouse to Cruise Ships” to my 2007 bestseller, Masters of Sales.

Julien Sharp

Julien Sharp

The article talks about her early childhood dream to be a musical performer on The New Mickey Mouse Club, how that transitioned into a desperate longing to become a cruise ship entertainer, and how she went from a kid growing up in rural Indiana to a successful cruise ship entertainer performing in exotic locations like the southern Caribbean.

Although Julien’s story is certainly an interesting one, the reason I bring up her article is not to detail her journey from Mickey Mouse to Cruise Ships, but to focus on the main points in her article, which explain how she achieved success.

Julien says that even today, she’s never forgotten a quote she read as a young girl from Lee Iacocca: “You’ve got to say, ‘I think that if I keep working at this and want it badly enough, I can have it.’ It’s called perseverance.”

This idea became the mantra that guided Julien to success. She says, “I had to have the perseverance to finish what it took to achieve my goal, and I had to realize that perseverance virtually never comes into play without the first two words in the quote: ‘I think . . .”

As a result of making Iacocca’s quote her mantra, at an early age Julien learned:

  1. To convert her dream to a specific goal
  2. How to research her target market
  3. To create an impassioned sales presentation, and
  4. To sell with passion.

Julien’s all-encompassing goal was to sing on a cruise ship, so she researched her client (cruise ship companies), rehearsed her presentation (created a demo cassette, packaged with the most professional photo she could afford, and included an introductory letter detailing her experience, education and the absolute passion she had for achieving her goal), used her enthusiasm as her best selling tool (all her money and every ounce of emotional desire went into 12 demo packages destined for various cruise lines in Miami), and persisted in chasing her goal. It’s no surprise that she achieved that goal, and now she continues to achieve even greater goals with each new year.

So, what’s your goal this week? This month? This year? Please share your answers in the comment forum below and if you really want to achieve your goals, remember the Iacocca quote, take a lesson from Julien, and learn to persevere.

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