BNI Archives - Page 11 of 11 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Setting the Stage for a Successful Word of Mouth Program

During a conversation last week, one of our assistant directors for BNI in Michigan, Leslie Fiorenzo, made an interesting point of comparison between appreciating opera and learning to use word-of-mouth marketing in your business. She said, “The best way to experience opera is to see it on the stage, and the best way to use word of mouth is to put a referral marketing plan in place. The novice, in either case, may not know where to begin.”

We started talking about a system to generate business by referral and, just like opera, if you have little or no experience with referral marketing, it would be a mistake to jump into action without preparing yourself. Central to the referral-marketing process is getting people to send you referrals. To do so, they must know exactly what you do–what product or service you provide or make; how, and under what conditions, you provide it; how well you do it; and in what ways you are better at what you do than your competitors. You absolutely must communicate this information to your sources. And to communicate effectively, you must know the same things. Before business owners map out their referral marketing campaign, they must stop and get a clear picture of where their business currently stands.

Leslie commented that when people begin to learn and study opera, they begin with basic works by composers such as Giuseppe Verdi and Giacomo Puccini before moving on to more complex works by composers such as Richard Wagner. In the same way, when marketing your business by word of mouth, there is a place to start before you meet with the people in your network. You begin by preparing answers to some basic questions about yourself and your business like:

1. Why are you in business?
2. What do you sell?
3. Who are your customers and
4. How well do you compete?

The ability to communicate this information to your sources and prospects will be invaluable as you begin to build your network and formulate your plan to gain more and more business the most effective way–through referrals.

Once you master some basic tools, you can move on to a deeper understanding of the process. For example, there are three laws of Notable Networking:

1. Have a positive and supportive attitude, and provide a positive and supportive environment for other business people.
2) Learn how to use networking tools efficiently, including business cards and an informative name badge, and have a business-card case to hold others’ cards.
3) Networking is an acquired skill that requires listening to tapes, reading books/articles, talking to great networks and practicing what you’ve learned.

One great place to get more information on this subject is www.bni.com. I highly recommend that you become familiar with the basic tools of word-of-mouth marketing and begin to implement them in your business so that you can begin to watch it grow. Because, just like appreciating opera, if you don’t begin with the basics, you won’t experience the optimum result.

Networking Now Blog in Polish!!!!

The Networking Now blog is definately “international”!  For all our Polish language readers, you can find a translation of it every week at:

http://bnipolska.pl/content/view/159/98/

Thanks to Greg Turniak for making this happen.

Ivan

You’re the Average of the Five People You Hang Out with Most

I just attended the international BNI Conference last week with more than 800 directors and members from almost 40 countries from around the world. It was an incredible experience that felt a little like a United Nations meeting!

One of the keynote speakers was Jack Canfield (seen to the right with Amy Brown of BNI, myself and Patty Aubrey of Chicken Soup for the Soul Inc.).

Jack shared many great stories and did an outstanding presentation (I’d highly recommend him to any organization). One of his comments really resonated with me. He said that “we are the average of the five people we hang out with most!” This comment reminded me of my belief that we become what we read and whom we hang around. This is a powerful concept great for anyone (including our children).

So, what are you reading and with whom are you hanging around? With this thought in mind, do you plan on making any changes in the near future? Good things to ponder.

I consider Jack a good friend and have an opportunity to spend a couple weeks with him every year as part of his Transformational Leadership Council. Thanks for your great presentation, Jack. You’ve given us many ideas to think about.

Attitude is Everything in Networking

Last week, one of the big items on my calendar of things to do was a marathon day of radio interviews beginning at 4a.m.  As you can imagine, getting up at an hour when roosters haven’t even begun to think about warming up their vocal chords is not the most enticing of tasks.  However, after stubbing my toe in the pitch blackness and yelping out a word I won’t mention here, I remembered that as the Founder & Chairman of BNI, the world’s largest business networking organization, I had agreed to do these interviews at such an outrageous hour because it is my responsibility to do whatever needs to be done to network for the organization.

Now, can you imagine what would happen if  I answered the interviewer’s first question—which is always “How are you doing today, Dr. Misner?â€?—by grumbling about how I had stubbed my toe and how I wished I was back in my warm bed?  Well, what would happen is that people would be immediately turned off by my negative attitude and nobody would listen to me.

This brings me to my point that in order to be a master networker, you must always maintain a positive attitude no matter what.  With over two decades of professional networking experience, one thing I’ve learned is how important it is to have a positive attitude in order to successfully network.  And if I’m going to go around telling other people how to discipline and train themselves to network effectively, then I darn well better be walking the walk (or at least limping along, stubbed toe and all) and maintaining the positive attitude of a master networker.

Now that I’ve told you about the second most important trait of a master networker, I figure might as well give you the other nine.  Here they are, ranked in order of their perceived importance to networking:

1. Follows up on referrals
2. Positive attitude
3. Enthusiastic/motivated
4. Trustworthy
5. Good listening skills
6. Networks always
7. Thanks people
8. Enjoys helping
9. Sincere
10. Works their network.  

“Happy” Networking!

Honor the Event

I had a conversation recently with a new BNI member who expressed that she has always been somewhat uncomfortable networking because she’€™s always been afraid of sounding like she’€™s being pushy, and she has a hard time knowing when it’s even €œOK to approach the subject of business with other people.I told her what I’€™ve said countless times over the years to many other people–that the absolute key to networking appropriately is making sure to always honor the event.

You can network any time and any place, but as long as you are honoring the event, there is nothing to be afraid of.However, this means that in some cases you are going to network a lot differently than you would in other cases.For example, networking at a chamber mixer is one thing, while networking at church social event is something completely different.


It is essential to understand that networking does not mean that you should constantly be trying to sell people your products or services. Networking does mean that you should constantly build relationships. The best way to build relationships is to help someone whenever possible.


In order to appropriately network at a church social event, for example, you should make contacts, put people together, help others and build relationships.However, you should not be actively promoting your business.You should simply focus on putting people together and helping others.


Always keep your networking goals in sight at all events and opportunities, but don’€™t become a networking vulture or someone that everyone else runs from when they see you coming. Honor the event and tailor your networking strategies so that you fit in without being tuned out.


Always be sincere; and remember that no one minds the opportunity to exchange information that will benefit one or more people, even when that exchange takes the form of helping someone..

Wild Fire Fund

The wild fires ravaging Southern California bring back some horrific memories.  Just a few years ago, a 40 foot wall of flames came past my home near the foothills in Claremont (shown below).   In the photo, you can see me hosing my head down to douse the hot embers falling from the fire.  I was attempting to keep the wood beams in my backyard from catching fire as the flames swept through the open space behind my home.  More than two dozen homes burned down in my community.  Luckily, ours was not one of them.

Fire

I can relate to the feelings that many residents near these fires are experiencing.  To help the victims of the current fires in Southern California, the BNI-Misner Foundation is creating a fund to support the Red Cross efforts with helping victims of the fire.   The BNI-Misner Foundation is doing a matching fund of up to $10,000.  If you would like to join BNI in contributing to the survivors of this tragedy, please go to this URL where you can make a credit card contribution to BNI’s matching Wild Fire Fund:   

  1. Go to http://www.calfund.org/8/giving_bnimisner.php
  2. Click on the link to “make a secure contribution now” towards the bottom.
  3. Fill out the required information, and follow the prompts.

Or, checks can be sent to the BNI-Misner Charitable Foundation at 545 College Commerce Way, Upland, CA 91786.  Make sure to state that the contribution is for the matching “Wild Fire Fund”.

New Orleans – After Katrina

I spent the last few days in New Orleans for a BNI event hosting the 210 winners (and guests) of the 2007 USA Member Extravaganza for the organization.

There are two things I want to share about my visit to the area.  The first, is my impression of the business people.  It’s great to see business “start” to come back in the city.  One of the things that struck me was how so many businesses THANKED us for visiting the city and helping in some small way to bring back the economy.  It was truly dramatic.  Every time my wife and I purchased something, the stores went out of their way to thank us for our business.  When we told them were with a group of 210 people, they were extremely thankful.  It felt great to help the city and I invite you to visit New Orleans.  They definitely need more business and they appreciate it more than any group of people I’ve seen in recent years.

The second thing I want to share relates to the many stories I heard about courage and giving.  Prior to the event I mentioned above, I had an opportunity to speak to about 150 BNI and Jefferson Chamber of Commerce members in the greater New Orleans area .  I heard many stories about the hurricane and its aftermath.  One that really jumped out at me was a BNI member by the name of Dr. Morris Panter.

Dr. Panter (seen here with me at the event) told me that immediately after the hurricane, he had no practice!  His office was damaged with holes in the roof but it was still partly usable.  So, he spray painted a plywood board that said “Relief Workers Adjusted for Free.”  He told me that over the next several months he adjusted 900 relief workers helping to clean up from the disaster!

I think Dr. Panter’s story is another one of the many examples of courage and giving that we have seen come out of this horrific event.  In the face of the temporary loss of all his business, he took the time to “give” to the people helping his city.

It was an honor to speak to people throughout the greater New Orleans area and I wish them continued success in building the city’s economy back up.

"Act as if. . ." Party

I’m spending a couple days at Jack Canfield’s home in Southern California participating in a strategic planning session for an organization I belong to called the Transformational Leadership Council (an organization he founded about 4 years ago for trainers and thought leaders).

Kathryn Lodal, one of my Executive Directors for BNI requested that I ask Jack a great question that I thought would make a good topic to discuss in my blog today. In Jack’s latest book, “Success Principle’s,” one of the things he recommends that people do is to create an event where they “act as if” they were the person they aspired to be 5 years from now! Kathryn wanted to know how to best do that. So, I asked Jack for some suggestions and I loved his response.

Jack suggests that people put on an “Act as if” event where everyone comes dressed as the person they want to be five years from now. He said the key to making this work is using props and video recording the event. Make sure that you create a vision for where you would like to be and to record that vision so that you can more effectively attract that in to your life. Dress like the person you want to be, talk like the person you want to be, create a story around the person that you want to be, and make sure to record that vision during the event.

I’d love to hear from anyone that has done this and how the event worked out. I know that Kathryn and her BNI members in San Diego will be doing it a few months from now and and I can’t wait to see the video!

A Referral You’ll Feel Good About

I watched an amazing movie today.  It was not a blockbuster but it was an incredible story.  It was Freedom Writers starring Hilary Swank as a high school teacher in a difficult school.  The movie is based on a true story.   One of the secondary points of the movie really stood out to me.   The teacher that Swank played had a difficult time getting books from the school for her students.

I ran into a similar situation a couple years ago when the BNI-Misner Foundation had a request from a teacher that said the school’s library was only open one day a week and there were very limited books available to her students.  She said that she couldn’t teach students math, science, english, or history if they couldn’t read.   That request motivated us to focus more on providing mini-grants for teachers trying to obtain books for their students.  Watching Freedom Writers reinforced our interest in providing mini-grants directly to teachers in schools who need books.

So, why am I mentioning this???  “A referral you’ll feel good about” is any teacher you know who is looking for books for their class.  We’d like to consider them for a mini-grant ($500-$1,000 max).  If you know someone like this, have them send an email to bethmisner@bni.com who is the administrator for the BNI-Misner Foundation.  We’d  like to see if we can help.

Thanks!

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