Ivan Misner, Author at Dr. Ivan Misner® - Page 3 of 110
garage to global

Garage to Global ® – The Next Four Lessons

35 years ago, I started BNI literally in my garage and in a small room above my garage. I am truly an example of taking a business from a garage to global company. I am sharing this month twelve lessons that I’ve learned from scaling my company and making it grow globally. These are things that I did not necessarily learn in college to take my business literally from my garage to a global enterprise.

Here are another four lessons on how to scale your business.

Know your numbers to go from Garage to Global.

You must get really good with your numbers and you got to have those kinds of numbers. I’d recommend weekly reports that you want to make sure to generate so that you can eyeball how you’re doing. You cannot hit a future goal if you do not know how you’re doing today. The key numbers that will determine whether you’re going in the right direction or in the wrong direction.

Do six things a thousand times, not a thousand things six times.

If you want to be successful in business, focus on doing six things 1000 times. In BNI, it’s what we call “three plus one.” It is adding members, adding chapters, filling chapters and telling stories. Those are the key performance indicators for chapters. New BNI members should work on their networking education by reading books, watching YouTube videos, and having 121 meetings with people you really trust. Be a dog with a bone because persistence is a superpower.

Surround yourself with great people.

Look for the people who have values that are congruent with the values that you have. I’d recommend my book, “Who’s in Your Room?” It’s all about understanding your values and surrounding yourself in your room with the right people. If you have someone working for you who is not the right fit for you and your business, you’ve got to be able to let them go quickly.

Ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice.

As a new business, hire people with a great attitude and teach them. I prefer to hire somebody who is coachable and excited to be working for me. It’s okay to find ignorance on fire and coach them on how to do their job. When you do that, they will become very loyal to you because you’ve spent the time, mentoring and coaching them.

So these are another four lessons in how to take your business from “Garage to Global”. If you missed it, here is the link to the first blog in this series. This is all part of the garage the global material from a recent BNIpodcast that I’m working on right now for a future book. There’s more to come next week.

Garage to Global

Garage to Global ®

I am introducing today a concept I am calling garage to global. I literally built my business from operating out of my garage to a global enterprise with over 9400 BNI chapters in more than 70 countries all around the world. How did I do that? Well, first and foremost, I created a plan that I applied over the past 35 years of consecutive growth in the organization.

I want to share twelve lessons with you that I’ve learned from scaling my company and making it grow globally. These are things that I did not necessarily learn in college to take my business literally from my garage to a global enterprise.

Here are the first four lessons I learned to go Garage to Global in this video:

Learn to work on your business, not just in your business.

You have to learn how to work on your business, not just in your business. The difference is when you are “working on the business”, you are managing it strategically. When you are “working in the business”, you are doing all the work yourself. You have to learn how to be an entrepreneur. I was there, “working in the business” for a long time, but the quicker you get to be “working on the business”, the more successful you are going to be. Please read “The E-Myth” by Michael Gerber if you’re not familiar with this concept.

Create systems and write them down.

One of the secrets, I believe, to the success of my company was creating systems. You have to create systems processes, and then you have to write these systems down. Finally, you have to teach others what you have written down. Because learning is a leaky bucket process, stuff leaks out, unless it’s written down and done consistently.

Reverse-engineer your goals.

First, you need to set goals. You cannot hit a target you are not aiming at. I set my goals at three different levels. It’s a great technique to use when creating goals. I think goals are extremely important. But what we are often not taught in school is the importance of reverse engineering your goals. If you have a goal for the end of the year, where do you need to be at the end of each month between January and December?  Finally, you should review your monthly goals at the end of every month. This comparison will tell you right away, how are you doing? Are you “on track” or “way off.” And that’s way too late. And so the reverse engineering your goals is a critical element of scaling your business.

Delegate both responsibility and authority.

You have to learn how to delegate effectively. We tend to only delegate responsibility but we don’t delegate authority. That means someone who is responsible, but they also have the authority to make the decisions. Everyone you delegate should have 95% authority in that position. Don’t worry if people make a mistake. They will. It’s inevitable. You just need to be prepared to coach and guide them when that happens.

And so that’s a very short lesson on how I took BNI literally from my garage to a global organization. This is all part of the “Garage to Global” material from a recent BNIpodcast that I’m working on for a future book. There’s more to come. I will be posting the second and third blogs of this three-part series later in the month.

Vibrant Community

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company by Robert Skrob

I’ve asked Robert Skrob to write another guest blog for my site.  Robert is also the author of “Retention Point, which I highly recommend.  He previously shared the topic of “The New Customers Experience” on my blog.  Today, he is sharing the topic of “Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company”. Read closely – Robert is truly an expert.

Creating a Vibrant Community Around Your Company

What if you had 45 percent of the available customers within your market?

The mutual fund company, The Vanguard Group, does just that. More than 45 percent of the money flowing into mutual funds today goes into a Vanguard managed fund.

You’d think they wouldn’t need to do much for their customers. Since they specialize in index traded, set-it-and-forget-it type investment vehicles, you’d think they wouldn’t need to communicate with their members. In fact, the opposite is true. The Vanguard Group has one of the most vibrant customer tribes in the investment world, and it’s a large part of their success.

The term “Boglehead” may not mean much to you, but I’ve been a Boglehead since 1991. Actually, we weren’t called Bogleheads then; instead, we were known as “Vanguard Diehards.”

While I pursued my master’s degree in accountancy from Florida State University, I wrote a paper about index fund investing. Mind you, this was during the big recession of 1990-1992. Through my research, I discovered that fewer than 30 percent of the professionally managed mutual fund companies beat the S&P 500 index in any one year. And a much smaller percentage could beat the index over a period of five or 10 years.

I figured if full-time professionals couldn’t consistently beat the S&P 500 index, why should I believe I could pick stocks any better working part-time? I became a believer in index fund investing and have stuck with it ever since. Of the index funds, The Vanguard Group is consistently the least expensive, so I’ve been squirreling away my savings there ever since.

Jack Bogle, the founder of The Vanguard Group, passed away in January 2019 at the age of 89 years old.

As the founder and while CEO of Vanguard, Jack was an avid promoter of index fund investing. He was an outspoken critic of high-fee mutual funds and “financial buccaneers offering a panoply of silly investment strategies that people may not understand.”

Jack Bogle created thousands of fans. One of them started a membership site called Bogleheads.org. It’s grown to have an annual meeting with appearances by The Vanguard Group executives, a field trip to Vanguard headquarters, and featured speakers from the world of personal finance.

You may have different opinions with regard to investing. You may be a financial advisor who offers investment vehicles that directly conflict with what’s published on Bogleheads.org. However, see Bogleheads.org is an excellent case study on how you can create a vibrant community around your company, no matter what you offer.

Within the “Start here” menu, Bogleheads.org outlines the investment philosophy first promoted by Jack Bogle during the 1980s.  This gets new members caught up on the values of the Boglehead community. In a word, it indoctrinates them. This is a critical piece that’s missing from most information marketing businesses.

Bogleheads.org gives its members valuable information (ROI), a connection to a community of like-minded people, an opportunity to contribute by posting content, recognition for being helpful to other members, and an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

Even though the site has a dated design and the founder of the philosophy has passed away there are still thousands of active users every day.

Plus, for Vanguard, it insulates its members against all the conflicting investment offers within the marketplace. The community helps customers believe the single best investment option is low expense mutual funds. The same low-cost mutual funds Vanguard happens to specialize in delivering.

What if you had a community indoctrinating new customers into believing the products and services you offer are indeed the best solutions to your customers’ problems? Perhaps like Vanguard, you could own 45% or more of your market?

It all starts with your core values. BNI’s core values are Givers Gain®, Building Relationships, Lifelong Learning, Traditions + Innovation, Positive Attitude, Accountability, and Recognition. When BNI members experience the power these values have within their business life they become excited members for life.

What are the core values of your company?

For The Vanguard Group, Jack Bogle had to convince investors that index funds were the smarter way to invest. What must your customers believe and how should they behave to get the most value from what you deliver?

This may be an “advanced” marketing skill. But when it’s complete, it can give you a fast-growing world-wide business that leaves competitors scrambling for second place.

Robert Skrob is the #1 expert in membership and customer retention and the author of the book, Retention Point The Single Biggest Secret to Membership and Subscription Growth. He has helped hundreds of membership programs launch and then grow from start-ups to become some of the largest membership and subscription companies in the world.

Encourage Employees to Network

Five Ways to Encourage Employees to Network

Too many entrepreneurs focus on bringing in new business themselves or in tandem with the sales force but overlook their support staff as a source of referrals. Building word-of-mouth for your business is not just the responsibility of your marketing or sales department. As you might imagine, it’s far better to engage your entire staff in your word-of-mouth marketing campaign-not only at startup, but also throughout the life of your business. Here are five tips on ways to encourage employees to network:

1. Include networking in the job description for each and every employee

Often, if a new hire knows upfront that he’s expected to incorporate networking into his job, it will happen.

2. Have clear and reasonable expectations.

If your company manufactures a very obscure product, your staff might have a hard time bringing in tons of referrals. However, keep in mind that people are more important in the networking process than the type of product being sold. When you have the right person, he or she will be able to build a network around any kind of product or service.

3. Teach your staff about how to network effectively for the company.

Hold focus groups where you role-play ways to ask for referrals from other customers, friends, and family. Bring in local networking experts for in-house training. If you belong to a weekly networking group, bring your staff to those meetings one at a time so each member can see firsthand what networking can produce. This also helps your networking partners feel that they know your business better since they’ve been able to meet the people in your company.  Until you teach someone how to do something effectively, expecting them to do it well or even at all is unrealistic.

4. Motivate your staff to bring referrals to the company.

My wife once worked for a business owner who incorporated monetary bonuses into her word-of-mouth marketing expectations. For every new customer, she was given a bonus. It was a win-win arrangement for the company, as each new customer brought in revenue well above the bonus amount, and my wife felt rewarded each time one of her referrals came through the door.

Having a bonus system in place made it obvious that she would be attending chamber meetings with the boss and developing other connections in the community while passing out business cards and flyers for the company. To properly execute this idea, check with your CPA or tax preparer.

You might even establish a “networker of the month” status for the staff, using a reserved parking spot or an overnight hotel stay somewhere fun as a reward. Make the motivation something that’s relevant to your industry and, most of all, exciting to your staff.

5. Be sure your staff sees you practicing your networking skills.

Often, we as entrepreneurs don’t share with our staff the amount of time and energy we put into building and maintaining our businesses utilizing word-of-mouth marketing. I have always felt very strongly about this point. If I am going to expect my staff to do something, motivate and reward them for doing it, I better let them see me doing it as well. All too often, networking is something done behind the scenes and not necessarily in front of the staff.

One way to change this is to track how much business you brought in, as well as the staff’s numbers. Imagine the pride one competitive staff member will have when he or she breaks your number. Imagine the profits your company will realize when everyone in the company focuses on growing the business.

Networking is a group activity. Make sure to encourage employees to network and get your whole team on board with the process.

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Secrets to Getting Referrals

Networking groups can definitely help businesses generate referrals.  When attending referral-related networking groups, remember that your efforts should not focus on trying to “close a sale. If you want to get business from the fellow members of your networking group, educate these people about some of the specifics of your business and what to look for in order to refer you effectively. Here are some secrets to getting referrals to consider for educating people in your networking groups:

Train your Sales Force

Do not generalize

I have heard hundreds of thousands of introductions at business networking events in my 20 years of running a business referral organization. Many people, when outlining what type of referrals they want, use the words “anyone,” “someone” or “everyone.” I don’t recommend it. It is also important to remember that if you are in a group that meets weekly, your presentation should focus on something different each time in order to continue the educational process.

Bring support materials

Have something visual for members to view or leave with. Your chances of staying in their minds long after the day’s meeting are increased. A flier about a product sale or a newsletter from your company are good items to bring. You might also bring samples of an item you carry in your store or place of business.

Break your business down into keywords

When introducing yourself, break your business down into keywords. Each week you focus on simply one aspect of your business. In other words, break your business down into very small pieces. What are the words others will use as search terms about your industry? These are your keywords. You may be tempted to use broad approach-listing all the areas your business covers. Instead, consider that your fellow networkers will learn more about you if you explain one aspect of your business weekly at each meeting.

If you want to get referrals from your networking efforts, remember to train your sales force and provide them the support material they will need to find others searching for you based on your keywords. Chances are, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your results.

35th Anniversary

BNI® is Celebrating its 35th Anniversary This Week

BNI’s 35th anniversary is this week! The official kick-off of the first BNI group was January 8th, 1985.

35 years ago, I put together about 20 people in a small coffee shop in Arcadia, California for the very first meeting of BNI® (Business Network International).  Furthermore, the original organization, “The Network”, was run from a small bedroom that was converted into an office inside my house in La Verne, California. I recognized back then that 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.

In some ways, it seems like yesterday.

It is BNI’s 35th Anniversary this week!

In light of BNI’s 35th anniversary, I share the story of BNI’s surprisingly accidental beginnings. Furthermore, I open up about my astonishment at just how successful BNI has become. Please watch my special 35th anniversary message video by clicking here.

A must-watch video for BNI members worldwide! Please encourage all your BNI members to watch this video by playing the video during your BNI meeting this week as the “Purpose and Overview of BNI” and by posting this video’s YouTube URL on your BNI National, Regional, and chapter Social media pages too. 

It has been an incredible 35 years.  I am humbled by what BNI has become.  Its impact on the world of business and on individual lives continues to spread. I feel so proud of how the Givers Gain® philosophy has expanded around the world and I can never get enough of hearing about people’s experiences in the organization.

I look forward to many more years as part of BNI and hope to see most of you along the ride.

shape up your business

Shape up Your Business With Networking Aerobics

It’s that time of year again when we make our “New Year Resolutions” and the world seems to be exercising more! I’ve put together a series of exercises you can consider to be networking aerobics. Diligent practice of these exercises will pay off in a healthy networking ability and improved contacts that will lead to contracts. Here are some exercises to help you to shape up your business and maintain networking momentum.

Leg lifts

Rise from your chair and get to a networking event. It might be tempting to indulge in “Cave Man” behaviors and never leave the office. This is not the best way to expand your business, much less develop a healthy word-of-mouth base.

Arm extensions

Extend your right hand from the shoulder to reach for the hand of any new contacts you meet. Shaking hands is an important part of making a new contact. Not extending the hand of friendship can be perceived negatively. It sets you apart as being aloof and cold. Just be courteous and warm, and I’m sure however you shake hands you’ll make a good impression.

Jaw flex 

Immediately after the arm extension, introduce yourself to the person you just met. Let the new contacts know who you are and what you do. Make sure to be specific and provide a benefit statement about your services. Don’t forget that a good networker has two ears and one mouth and should use both of them proportionately-so give the jaw a little break.

The splits

As you see groups of two or three people talking together, go join them and introduce yourself. However, notice if they are “open” twos and threes or “closed” twos and threes. The open twos and threes will have a gap between the individuals, almost inviting another person to join with them. The closed twos and threes will be completely self-absorbed and wouldn’t be the first place to start practicing the splits. Ask the person hosting the event, or perhaps the individual who invited you to attend, to come around with you and introduce you to clusters of people.

Drop and carry

Ask for your new contacts’ business cards. Drop them into your left pocket and carry them back to your office. I usually carry my own business cards in my right pocket and use the left pocket to carry the new contacts’ cards. This habit can spare you the embarrassment of reaching into your pocket for your card and coming up with someone else’s card. Prior to dropping the contacts’ cards in your pockets, write a note on the back of their cards that will help jog your memory about them.

Arm curls

After your networking event, follow up with a phone call to the people you met. You might wish to follow up via e-mail or by sending note cards-just do something to put you back in the new contacts’ minds.

Cool-down

After attending a networking event, you need to do a cool-down exercise as well. We recommend recording the event’s contacts in a journal. There are also computer programs which will allow you to record the results of the networking event. Referring back to the documentation from the exercises you did at the event will help you cultivate the contacts into a bumper crop of referral business.

As you attend various networking events to promote your businesses, keep these exercises in mind and remember: no pain, no gain! You’ve got to put yourself out there in order to develop a word-of-mouth-based business.

2020 Vision

Having Clear 2020 Vision Goals

It’s almost the New Year! Since it will be 2020, I thought it would be perfect to talk about 2020 vision. Please watch this video.

There is an old phrase that hindsight has 2020 vision. While that may be true, but I also believe that foresight can have 2020 vision. The challenge is, you actually have to think about your future. Really spend time and think about it, even if it’s just a few hours. Give some thought to your future. When I talk about setting goals, I find that people are a little like Bobblehead Ivan here. Yea, yea, yea, I need to set goals. Yea, you need to set goals. Goals are just a vision of where you want to go.

Goal Setting

Every year for the last 40+ years (yes, even before I started BNI), I have taken time during this period of the year to reflect. I start by looking at the past year and see how it played out according to my plan. Where it worked, I celebrated. Where it didn’t work, I analyzed why. More importantly, I contemplated how I could make it work.

Then, I did my real vision making. I thought about what I wanted to achieve during the next year and then three to five years out. Finally, I gave consideration to where I would be 10 years out. I started this process when I was in my early 20’s. In fact, I actually created a 40-year plan for myself back then. You can see that plan on the blog post listed below:

https://ivanmisner.com/life-lessons/

Truly, anything past five years is an educated guess. I get that. But it’s also something else. It’s a game plan. It’s a vision for where you want to go. Your one year plan should be really specific. Your 3-5 year plan should be strategic. And anything longer is highly strategic (which you’ll see if you read my 40-year plan). You can’t hit a target you don’t aim at. Create a target. That’s the vision. Take aim, that’s the action.

Here are three things I want you to do over the next couple of days to create your 2020 vision.

  1. Dream big. Create your 2020 vision.
  2. Have a Plan. How will you achieve your 2020 vision?
  3. Take action. Actually do the things you create in your plan.

Do those three things this year and then do me a favor. Mark your calendar for the end of 2020 and post a message about how this changed your life. I’m going to be looking for it.

If anyone wants to comment now about your 2020 vision, I’d love to see it. I’m Ivan Misner and this is 2020.

2020 International Networking Week

2020 International Networking Week ®

The 2020 International Networking Week ® is an initiative of BNI®. It is an opportunity for business owners to show appreciation for their valued customers and contacts from networking.

This will be a week of global recognition and gratitude from February 2 through 8, 2020 to thank those business owners who have helped you to grow your business while networking. Furthermore, this year’s action item is to recognize and thank those people in your BNI chapter, chamber of commerce,  and other networking organizations. Take a moment to say, “Thank You” in person, in your meeting, and on various social media platforms.
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The focus of International Networking Week is to bring together representatives of government, businesses and community leaders from around the world to network and to recognize the power of networking. Speakers will offer advice and information on how businesses can grow and succeed through good networking practices.
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The 13th Annual 2020 International Networking Week is just around the corner. Therefore, it’s time to build your powerful personal network now. Invite various business owners who have helped you to grow your business to your BNI chapter or to your networking mixer. Invite them to network and to recognize the power of networking from February 2 through 8, 2020. Check out the promo video for the 13th Annual 2020 International Networking Week. Please use the hashtag with your photos and posts: #INW2020

 

The 2020 International Networking Week theme is “One Million Thank Yous”

Expressing gratitude completes the feeling of connection. Many people in your life have helped you in one way or another. Therefore, have you thanked them? Consider sending a letter to someone telling them what their actions meant to you, even if—especially if—it happened long ago.   It costs little or nothing. Furthermore, it almost always follows suit that they will demonstrate their gratitude for what you do.

When you show an interest in others by noticing the good things they’ve done; they will be drawn to you like a magnet.  Therefore, it will accelerate the relationship-building process and enhance their overall impression of you.”

In conclusion, the goal of International Networking Week is to celebrate the key role that networking plays in the development and success of businesses across the world. Networking events are being held globally to celebrate International Networking Week. For more information about these international events during the first week of February or to promote your local networking event on our 2020 International Networking Week website please see: internationalnetworkingweek.com

Tips From Santa

Business Coaching Tips From Santa Claus

This year, I had the pleasure to tap into Santa’s wisdom and learn a few tips from Santa from his 300 years of running a successful global overnight package delivery business.

For over 300 years his business has continued to thrive, survive and even flourish, despite the effects of distribution challenges, advances in technology, Global warming shrinking the size of the north pole, growing competition, staff downsizing, elf labor unions, reindeer red-nose discrimination, fluctuating World economy, and a hit-and-run incident with a Grandma.

Could your business survive such challenges? Santa shared with me his powerful knowledge and experiences as the principal of his global overnight delivery service. In the spirit of Givers Gain, he wanted me to share with you the challenges of his business from legal altercations to temperamental reports from all those elves on the shelf:

Business Tips by Santa Claus

C = Create Big Dreams
H = Have Passion and a Plan for Achieving Your Dreams
R = Really know what Your Customers Want
I = Investigate Your Competition
S = Schedule Everything and Stay on Time
T = Train Your Team to Have Your Vision Too
M = Make Sure You Protect Your Brand
A = Attitude is Everything – Have Fun!
S = Select an Outstanding Business Coach

You and your business will benefit by incorporating Santa’s wisdom and experience. As a result of putting these tips into practice, you can develop an outstanding business in 2020 with a “clear vision”.

Social Capital

Investing in Your Social Capital

I’m sure all entrepreneurs have heard of financial capital, but many may not have heard of social capital. Social capital is, in fact, very similar to its monetary sibling. It, too, is accumulated by an individual or a business and used, or is available for use, in the production of wealth. Put more simply, it’s the accumulation of resources developed through personal and professional networks. These resources include ideas, knowledge, information, opportunities, contacts and, of course, referrals. Social capital is built by design, not chance.

Social capital is acquired through networking because successful networking is all about building and maintaining solid, professional relationships. The trouble is we don’t have the natural community-like business relationships that existed before. Many business owners hardly know their own neighbors, let alone the local businesspeople in town. Therefore, networking is critical to an individual’s success in business.

Effectively developing your social capital can be a daunting task. However, doing so within a structured, organized networking framework will leverage your efforts and help you begin building your balance of capital to positively impact your bottom line. Here are some keys to creating social capital that will help you form the foundation of your business endeavors:

Plan your word-of-mouth

I’ve learned a great deal about planning and starting new businesses. Many years ago, it used to surprise me that 50 percent of all businesses fail after only three years in operation. However, now that I know how little planning many businesses do, I’m surprised that only 50 percent fail. If you want to be successful in business, it’s critical that you plan your work and work your plan. Furthermore, part of your plan should involve your strategy for building your business through word-of-mouth.

Give referrals

Every day, week and month, entrepreneurs strive to build their businesses through referrals. Part of this process is to build a team of people whom we recommend and refer to. This is part of the process of building your social capital.

If you’re not already a member of a strong contact network, find a chapter near you and get started. There’s no better way to systematically develop a solid base for building social capital than in an organization dedicated to helping you succeed in this endeavor.

Show professionalism at all times

Being dependable, delivering a product on time, meeting appointments consistently and treating others with courtesy will give you a professional reputation. This will cause you to be remembered by those you wish to have become a contributor to your social capital.

It’s a dog-eat-dog climate in the business world today. Competition is fierce, and some entrepreneurs employ down-and-dirty tactics. Studies have shown that one of the most important factors in doing business by referral is someone’s “professionalism.” By remaining professional at all times, you’ll rise to the top of the barrel and succeed where others will fail.

As you invest your time in developing your social capital, know that you are, in fact, increasing your bottom line. Strive to make the most effective use of this investment. Do everything possible to thoroughly enhance the relationships you develop in the coming year because social capital definitely leads to improved financial capital.

Three R's of Networking

The Three R’s of Networking

Do you know the Three R’s of Networking? Remember, networking is not selling. Therefore, these three are slightly different from the Three R’s’ of Selling.  Networking, however, can help you develop a successful word-of-mouth-based business. The Three R’s of Networking are Relationships, Reliability, and Referrals.

Relationships

Word-of-mouth is about “relationship marketing.” If you approach the first year of your involvement in a networking group with the sole motivation of getting to know the other members well, you will be far ahead of the game. One of the most important things I’ve learned over the years is that it is not really what you know or who you know; rather, it’s how well you know them that really counts! People do business with people they know and trust.

In order for word-of-mouth marketing to work for you, you first have to build a strong foundation with the people you hope will refer you to others. That takes time, and the amount of time it takes varies from profession to profession. Obviously, some professions are much more sensitive than others to the development of referrals. So find reasons to meet with each person outside the networking meeting. Get to them, and work on having them get to know you better. Make it clear that you value your relationship with each one of them.

Reliability

For the first year or so in a networking group, you are putting in your time. Your referral partners are testing you, checking you out and making sure that you deserve to have their valuable clients and contacts turned over to you. Therefore, you must be credible to the other professionals with whom you hope to network. Bear in mind that you should feel the same way, too. Before you risk your reputation with your clients by referring them to someone who takes less care of them than you would want to be taken, you must be very sure that the person to whom you refer them is reliable! How else are you going to know that unless you use them personally over a period of time?

Referrals

After cultivating relationships and proving yourself to be reliable, you get referrals as the end result. In order for someone to receive, someone else has to give. This holds so true with referrals. I would suggest you perform a reality check to see just how effectively you are referring to the people in your networking group. You might be surprised to find how little you actually refer others, or that you consistently refer the same two or three people.

If you aren’t tracking your referrals (both given and received), it’s time to start tracking them. Look for patterns. I would anticipate that in the months following a month you were particularly active in referring others, you will find that you are receiving more referrals! I have seen the “what goes around, comes around” principle illustrated over and over in BNI, the networking organization I founded years ago.

This is a natural progression and one that can’t really be rushed. I know it can seem frustrating at times when you are anxious to see your bottom line increase quickly from all the referrals you are anticipating receiving, but believe me, if you are patient and apply these techniques, you will see word-of-mouth marketing work for you in a big way.

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