May I Take Your Photo?–A Lesson in Great Customer Service

Givers Gain Art

I was at the BNI® U.S. National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee last week and every day, room service would come up and deliver my meals (often, right as a meeting in my suite was wrapping up).   Leslie (pictured below) was the employee who most often made the deliveries during the last part of my stay. On one of these days, I had a group of ten BNI Directors in my suite. They were kind enough to give me a Givers Gain® plaque (pictured at right) made by one of their local members.

Leslie--Omni

We started to gather around to get a photo and Leslie said, “Would you like me to take the picture?”  Now that’s not a big surprise, employees at hotels and restaurants have become accustomed to taking photos of the many people going through their venues. But here was the unusual part; she then said to everyone – “Okay, everybody give me all your cameras–I’ll take a photo with each of them.” She then dutifully accepted each camera and phone and, one by one, took many photographs making sure that everyone got their own picture.

While I was watching all of this, it struck me that she not only didn’t act “put-out” by having one camera after another given to her – she happily took each picture patiently and professionally, and smiled and chatted while she took each and every photo as though she were taking photos of her own family. I couldn’t help but think that there was some supervisor downstairs wondering what was taking her so long. The truth is, she was giving the guests at her hotel a very nice experience.

It made me start to think about each trip that Leslie made to the room. She was courteous, friendly, helpful, and attentive. I was so wrapped up in “the business of a running a conference” that I didn’t really notice just how good she really was until things started winding down for me.

So, for the record – to Leslie’s supervisor at the Omni Hotel in Nashville: Please know that Leslie was working diligently at creating a great guest experience. So much so, that I told the hotel manager that Leslie should be teaching customer service training – she’s that good. Thank you, Leslie – your stellar service was well noted (it may have taken me a few days – but I noticed).

If you’ve had a terrific customer service experience in the past, I’d love for you to share it in the comment forum below because I’m very interested in hearing about it–I’m particularly interested in your thoughts on what it was specifically that made your experience great.

P.S.–Many of you know that I radically altered my diet and, because of that, my wife Beth and I work closely with the hotel chefs when we travel. Well, Chef Harker from the Omni was also incredible (much like Leslie)–he’s one of the best chefs I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with during my travels.  Thank you, Chef Harker!

The Law of Reciprocity Works in Mysterious Ways


The Law of Reciprocity is a part of social capital theory and, in simple terms, it basically states that what you give/put out to the world will come back around to you in equal measure (i.e., ‘what goes around comes around’) and if you help others, you’ll receive help in return.

The interesting thing is that the Law of Reciprocity is not always immediate and the way in which it’s actually working is not always clear cut or easy to see.  You may help a person in their time of need and find that your good will toward them comes back to you in the form of good will or help repaid to you from someone completely different.  That’s the beauty of it though . . . when you have pure intentions toward others and act positively on those intentions, life (via the Law of Reciprocity) will reward you in surprising ways (And good surprises are much more fascinating and enjoyable than being able to predict exactly how the good you do will come back to you, right?).

In this video, in addition to discussing my general view on the Givers Gain® and the Law of Reciprocity, I share my initial reaction in regard to recently finding out how my son helped a friend in a time of dire need and I talk about how I believe the Law of Reciprocity will no doubt come into play for him as a result.

Do you have a story about how the Law of Reciprocity has affected you?  If so, please go to www.SubmitYourNetworkingStory.com and share your story for consideration of inclusion in the upcoming networking book I’m writing with Jack Canfield, and Gautam Ganglani.  Also, I’d love for you to briefly summarize your story in the comment forum below as well.  Thanks in advance for your participation!

‘Givers Gain’ Is a Standard, Not a Sword

Givers Gain® is a philosophy based on the law of reciprocity.  In the context of networking groups, people who adopt this philosophy dedicate themselves to giving business to their fellow networkers rather than making their foremost concern getting business for themselves.  In doing so, other people naturally become eager to repay their kindness by sending them business in return.  Givers Gain is a great way to live life in general and it is a standard which we can all apply to ourselves—key word being “ourselves”; it is not a sword to be pointed at others who may not adopt the philosophy.

Unfortunately, I have seen the Givers Gain concept abused from time to time and, as you may have guessed, the reason I’m writing about it now is because I saw it abused quite recently.  The entire concept gets misused when we start pointing a finger at others and saying things like, “Milton doesn’t have a Givers Gain attitude—he’s going about things all wrong.”  What’s interesting is that when we say things like this about other people, it’s often because they’re not doing something we think they ought to be doing in business or life.

Again, Givers Gain is not a sword to wave around at people who aren’t doing what we think they should be doing.  It is a standard we can apply to ourselves and ourselves only.  Ironically, when we point our index finger at someone else, there are three fingers pointing back at us—it’s a perfect reminder of whose actions and tactics we really need to be worrying about, don’t you think?  Don’t be the person who tends to blame others for their woes instead of focusing on their own behavior.

People who criticize and point fingers at others can be very caustic, which is one of the reasons it is important to be really selective about the people you surround yourself with (especially in the context of networking groups).  That said, there will undoubtedly still be people in our lives who are unendingly critical, judgmental, and just plain vitriolic.  I know I certainly have a couple of them in my life, including one person in particular who appears to have made criticizing me his favorite pastime.  They’re the people who love to talk about you, but who never actually talk to you about issues.

So, what do you do if you practice the Givers Gain philosophy in a sincere and consistent way, yet there is still someone waging a very personal attack on you?  How do you respond when they start waving their interpretation of the Givers Gain concept in your face like a sword of criticism?  The answer is simple—be yourself.  Continue to apply the philosophy to yourself in every way you can.  Vitriolic people are that way because they can’t control themselves.  Maybe they’re basically angry, maybe they’ve had a difficult life—who knows?  It doesn’t really matter because they are who they are and you can’t change them.  As much as we’d all like to steer clear of these people, there will be times when it’s virtually impossible.

Telling someone they’re wrong about you never works (I know this from personal experience); they’ll just come at you even stronger.  I can tell you what does work though.  What really works is when somebody else stands up and says to the person who’s badmouthing you that they’re out of line, or that what they’re saying is simply not appropriate.  It’s a little like a referral—nothing beats a third party endorsement . . . or, in this case, a third party defense.

Why am I bringing all this to light?  Because, the fact is, you are going to find yourself around a vitriolic person at one time or another—someone who’s combative instead of collaborative, someone who’s saying horrible things about someone else—and I want to take this opportunity to strongly encourage you to stand tall and speak up.

Good people stand up when caustic people say bad things about others; and if you practice Givers Gain as your own personal standard, you already know that standing up for others will encourage others to stand up for you.

Do you have a story about an experience with a person who was criticizing you to others or other people to you?  How did you handle it?  I’d love to hear your story, as well as your feedback on this blog post and on the Givers Gain concept in general.  Please leave your thoughts in the comment forum below. Thanks!

Does Your Networking Group Put Enough Emphasis on Quality?

In order for a networking group to be successful and thus ensure optimum networking results for each of its members, the first thing the group needs to do is ensure they are embracing quality.

Embracing quality means being very selective about who you bring into the group.  The only people you should be inviting into the group are quality business professionals who have a positive, supportive attitude and are good at what they do.  If an individual does not meet these criteria, they should not be permitted into the group, period.

Effective networking is dependent on the quality of the relationships are developed within any given networking group, therefore it should go without saying that embracing quality also means building deep relationships among all referral partners in order to generate more referrals.  If your network is a mile wide and an inch deep, you won’t be getting the referrals you expect.

Another aspect of embracing quality is ensuring quality participation which means there absolutely must be accountability within the group.  One of the greatest strengths of a good network is that many of the members are friends.  One of the biggest weaknesses, however, is that . . . well . . . many of the members are friends; friends don’t generally like to hold other friends accountable.  You need to remember, as do your fellow networking group members, that the purpose of your group is not to be a friendship club–your purpose is to be a referral group and in order to generate quality referrals, all members of the group must hold each other accountable for maintaining quality participation.

If you expect the best from your fellow referral partners, you’ll get it.  Likewise, if you expect less than the best from them, you’re guaranteed to get that as well.  Why accept mediocrity when excellence is an option?  Accountability within a group will help all involved to achieve excellence.

The last part of embracing quality is applying the Givers Gain® philosophy within the networking group (i.e., when each member focuses on helping their fellow members achieve goals, gain referrals, and grow business, their fellow members will reciprocate by helping them back in the same way).  The more members who live this philosophy (particularly as it relates to referrals), the more successful a group will be.

How does your networking group currently excel at embracing quality?  Which aspects of embracing quality could your group stand to improve upon?  Please share your thoughts in the comments section and I’ll be more than happy to offer suggested solutions to any challenges your group may be having with putting enough emphasis on quality. Thanks!

Coin-operated Networking vs. Givers Gain ®

Are you using coin-operated networking? In this short video, I discuss coin-operated networking vs. Givers Gain networking and I explain why the transactional process (I will give you this, now you have to give me that) doesn’t work because there is always a scorecard. The value of the referrals may also be the different — think of the monetary value for two referrals to a florist vs. two referrals to a realtor.

If you try to use coin-operated networking, it will absolutely, categorically fail.  To get maximum results from your networking efforts, it is imperative to understand the full concept of Givers Gain.  When you work with other people and genuinely invest yourself in creating good rapport and trust with them, you will be able to build strong, mutually beneficial relationships over time.

Actively seek out ways to support and offer assistance to others in your network and help them achieve their goals and get where they want to be.  A good way to begin is to give them something that will help them. Use the gift of giving: if someone expresses a problem in their business, send them an article that may help them. By doing so, you have just opened the door to a business relationship, without asking for anything in return.

The process is about farming, not hunting.

If you have an example about how you’ve used farming as opposed to hunting, please share it by leaving a comment.  Thanks!

Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude

The First Law of Notable Networking: Have a Positive and Supportive Attitude

Good networking involves providing a positive and supportive environment to other business people.  Remember this: Notable Networking is predicated upon the concept that Givers Gain®

If you freely give business to others, they will give business to you.  This concept is based on the age-old notion that “what goes around, comes around.”  If I give business to you, you’ll give business to me, and we will both do better as a result.  Networking is like a savings account: if you keep investing wisely, you can draw upon it when you need it.  One enthusiastic networker who belongs to a formal networking group told me, “The longer I’m in the group, the better I get at networking and the more referrals I get.  In addition, it seems that the more referrals I get, the higher the percentage that I close!  By developing long-term relationships, I am gaining the trust of the other members, which makes it easier to receive and close the referrals that are passed to me.”

A positive, supportive attitude also includes the way you present yourself to other people.  Everyone likes to do business with an enthusiastic optimist.  If you join a networking group, remain focused on the reason you’re there.  I see far too many people go to networks and get caught up in the irrelevant nitpicking: “The food’s no good,” “The speaker was mediocre,” “This room’s not very nice,” and so on.

With the quibblers, I share this anecdote: An airline attendant once responded to a passenger’s complaints about the quality of his dinner by asking him, “When you go to a French restaurant, do you usually order an airline ticket?”  The same rationale applies to networking meetings.  The quality of the food and the speaker should be secondary to the quality of the contacts you are making.  Don’t lose sight of your purpose.

It’s not Net-Sit or Net-Eat, it’s Net-WORK!  If you want your network to work for you, then you have to work your network in a positive and supportive manner.

In many ways, the First Law of Notable Networking involves more than attitude; it’s a way of life and a good way to do business.  When you constantly and consciously keep other people in your mind, they will do the same for you.

I’ll be posting about the Second and Third Laws of Notable Networking over the next couple of weeks so be sure to check back if you want to learn even more about how to succeed as a networker.

*Can you think of a person in your network who exemplifies the First Law of Notable Networking?  If so, take this opportunity to carry out the First Law yourself and showing them your support by recognizing that person in the comments section below.  Tell us who they are and what they do that makes them such a shining example of this First Law of Notable Networking.

A New Twist on a Simple Technique to Refer Networking Partners

If you’re a good networker, you know that by looking for ways to refer those in your network and referring them any chance you get, they’ll be anxious to return the favor and you will get more referrals as a result.

This video talks about how my friend Mohammad Favakeh, owner of Monte Carlo Chauffeured Transportation (www.mctlimo.com), has put a new and interesting twist on a technique which I’ve been recommending for years that makes it easy for people to refer their networking partners.

Watch the video and you’ll see how easy it is.  Really–all you need is a simple card file and it’s a great technique for anybody who wants to build their network!

No Faux Pas in India!

I’m headed to India this week to speak for BNI in Mumbai and Bangalore.  I look forward to meeting many people and having the chance to help them increase their business through referrals.

I’ve traveled to dozens of countries to speak and teach my philosophy of Givers Gain® in business. However, this is my first time to visit this exotic country. I’ve discovered that it is very important to get “briefed” by others before speaking around the world. I learned the hard way in one country during a public presentation that mentioning a woman’s “pants” actually indicates that you are speaking about her “underwear.” A story that talks about a woman’s pants, no matter how funny it is, doesn’t quite achieve the effect it’s supposed to when it’s told by a man and “pants”  means “underwear.”

Another thing I’ve learned is that using a specific phrase about tree roots in Australia or New Zealand can actually mean that you are talking about having sex. Who would have thought?! When I unknowingly used the phrase (in reference to tree roots–not sex) in the title of an article I wrote, folks in New Zealand and Australia began calling and e-mailing in handfuls to let me know of my blunder. On behalf of Americans everywhere who’ve used this phrase when speaking or writing to Australians and New Zealanders, I’d like to apologize.

In Sweden, there’s no expression for “word of mouth.” There, it is translated as “mouth to mouth.” Takes your mind in a whole different direction, doesn’t it?

And then there are hand gestures . . . don’t even get me started on talking about hand gestures! Suffice it to say, I’ve almost caused several international incidents by accidentally making the “wrong” hand gesture in some countries.

I’ll post a blog or two about my visit to India soon. But, before I go, help me out here would you please? Is there anything I should know about speaking in India? I’d really like to head back to the U.S. knowing for sure that the citizens of India are talking about something positive in regard to me . . . something other than me causing a public scene for saying or doing the wrong thing. 🙂

Wish me luck and, please, drop me a note here if you have any helpful information. Thanks!

Becoming a Notable Networker–Tips and Insights

If you really want to succeed at networking, take a look at the following tips and insights:

  • Notable Networkers are people who are skilled at networking and committed to the idea that givers gain. By helping other businesses get new clients or customers, they get new business sent their way.
  • The key to building a word-of-mouth-based business is mutual support, not necessarily friendship.
  • Organizations that network effectively provide opportunities to develop and exchange quality business referrals. Being a member of a well-organized network is like having dozens of salespeople working for you, each referring prospective clients your way.
  • A Notable Networker must have a positive and supportive attitude. Good networking involves providing a positive and supportive environment for other businesspeople.
  • A Notable Networker must have and use the right tools to network skillfully, including an informative name badge, business cards and a business card carrying case to hold others’ cards.
  • Networking is an acquired skill; it requires listening to CDs, reading books and articles, talking to people who network well, and practicing what you’ve learned.
  • Effective networking requires practice, practice, practice–and then more practice.

Is there a bullet point in this list you would like me to expand on? If so, leave a comment and let me know; I’m more than happy to oblige. 🙂

Using the Power of Networking to Go Global

We now live in a fully global society, and referral networking has become a prominent marketing strategy in this global society for one reason: It works. The idea of growing your business through word-of-mouth marketing is a concept that crosses cultural, ethnic and political boundaries because we all speak the language of referrals, and we all want to do business based on trust.

Referral networking is a cost-effective way to get in front of new clients worldwide, and it’s a much better way to keep a business prosperous over the long term (because it’s built on mutually beneficial relationships between you and your fellow business owners). Referral networking is powered by the oldest and most enduring principle of human society–Givers Gain–the idea that the good you do will eventually come back to you in one form or another.

Earlier this year I did a live telebridge interview with my colleague Paul Martinelli on the topic “Going Global via the Power of Networking,” and we had more than 500 people call in from all over the world. To me, this truly demonstrates the worldwide interest there is in global business building through networking, and it’s a testament to the fact that networking will only become more vital to business success in modern times.

If you’d like to get in-depth advice on how to use the power of networking to go global with your business, you can Click here to get free access to the recording of the interview I did with Paul Martinelli on the subject.

A True Givers Gain Achievement

In 1998, my wife Elisabeth and I co-founded the BNI-Misner Foundation, a nonprofit program supporting charitable causes. We created the foundation because we truly believe in the philosophy of Givers Gain, on which we founded BNI, our worldwide business networking organization. Simply put, Givers Gain means that if you help others, others will want to help you in return (think “what goes around comes around”).

Now, thanks largely to the generosity and kindness of BNI members and directors around the world who also believe firmly in the Givers Gain philosophy, as of May 2010, the BNI Foundation has contributed more than $1 million to charities around the world since its inception 12 years ago.

The foundation has a focus on children’s educational programs but allows donor-directed contributions as well. Looking back on the significant contributions the foundation has been able to make, I am continually inspired by the willingness of BNI members worldwide to give of themselves to help others. They made it possible to donate more than $100,000 to the 9/11 relief effort, $72,000 to tsunami relief, more than $25,000 for Haiti earthquake relief and tens of thousands of dollars for Hurricane Katrina relief. The foundation has built preschools in India, built preschools and a library and put tin roofs on schools in Indonesia, bought school uniforms for students in Kenya and stocked a library in South Africa with books.

Why am I telling you all of this?  I’m sharing these things with you because I truly believe that the more people genuinely give to others, the more successful they will be themselves. I fully attribute the worldwide success of BNI and its members (read some of their stories here) to this very concept. When you give to someone else because you want them to succeed, everybody wins, and you’re setting yourself up for success because the more good you do for others, the more good others want to do for you.

Starting this week, make a continuous effort to conduct your networking efforts, your business and your life with the philosophy that Givers Gain. Help people because you can and because you want to, and you’ll be amazed by the things you can achieve for yourself as a result.

To find out more about the BNI-Misner Charitable Foundation, click here.

Become a fan of the BNI-Misner Charitable Foundation on Facebook by clicking here.

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