BNI Archives - Page 2 of 11 - Dr. Ivan Misner®

Has Your Business Mission Changed?

In this video, I answer the question of how the mission for my own business, BNI® (the world’s largest business networking organization), has changed over the last thirty years.

In every business, there are some things which remain constant and other things which become transformational.  The one thing which has remained constant in my  own business is the philosophy of the organization, Givers Gain®, which is inculcated into the core of the entire company worldwide.  The organization itself, however, has a transformational nature in that we are Changing the Way the World Does Business®.  This is probably the biggest example of how our mission has changed as we started out as a tiny fledgling organization in Southern California not realizing we would eventually become a huge global company.

After watching the video, I’d love to hear your thoughts as well as your ideas on how the mission in your own business has changed.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Welcome to International Networking Week® 2015!

This week marks the 9th annual celebration of International Networking Week® which is recognized each year by thousands of people around the world.

International Networking Week is about celebrating the key role that networking plays in the development and success of business around the world.  It is about creating an awareness relating to the process of networking.  Not just any kind of networking, but what I call “relationship networking”–an approach to doing business based on building long-term, successful, genuine relationships with people strategically through the networking process.

International Networking Week has been acknowledged by many governmental organizations (including a joint resolution of the California State Assembly and Senate) and is celebrated in many countries across the globe.  Start the new year out with more business by using this week to build your networking skills and expand the opportunities within your reach.  If you belong to any networking groups, be sure to tell them that this is International Networking Week (Feb 2-6).

Please feel free to share this video with others and show it at your networking meetings this week.

For more information and a list of worldwide events, please visit www.InternationalNetworkingWeek.com.

So what have you already done and/or what will you be doing to recognize International Networking Week?  Please share your plans in the comment forum below–thanks!

 

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

BNI-30-Year-Logo

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!  

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a Small World After All

Why am I titling this week’s blog entry after a Disney song?  Just watch the video and you’ll find the answer . . . suffice it to say that even after 30 years of heading the world’s largest referral marketing company (BNI®), I’m still shocked at the fact that it really is a small world we live in and at how close the degrees of separation can actually be.

In this video, I tell the story of how I accidentally connected with a BNI member in Texas by phone when I was intending to call a completely different phone number–the result was completely unexpected and it just goes to show how small the world can actually be.

After watching the video, I’d love for you to share any stories you may have about interestingly unexpected connections you’ve made–please share your stories in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Make a Good Living While Serving a Greater Good

All of us are in business to make a profit. But if that’s the primary driving force in business, we become mercenaries to that process.  I believe that I should serve a greater need than simply to make a profit. I believe that business can be honorable.  It can make a difference in individual lives as well as communities.

Small business is the engine that drives many of the economies around the world.  Small business doesn’t have the resources of large corporations.  However, if they network together – the sum of the whole becomes greater than the individual parts. Well-designed collaboration based on an effective system and strategy can lead to small business success.

However, in the final analysis, the true foundation for success rests in an organization’s culture.  In fact, I believe that culture eats strategy for breakfast.  An organization needs a sound strategy to succeed but, it needs a great culture to excel.  For me, that approach has been about creating core values around a culture of collaboration.

Core values establish culture. It’s never too late or too early to think about your core values in business and in life. Here are my core values:

  1. The Philosophy of Givers Gain®(What goes around comes around).
  2. Building Meaningful Relationships
  3. Lifelong Learning
  4. Traditions + Innovation
  5. Positive Attitude
  6. Accountability

I believe that it is possible to make a good living while serving a greater good. The core values I have tried to apply in my life and in my business have helped to create a culture of collaboration within the context of building a business. This approach is not only a great way to get business, I believe it is an even better way to do business.

Business can be honorable. It can be something that improves people’s lives as well as supports and helps local communities. It can do so, by not only helping to generate more business for one another, but by giving back to the community, mentoring others, immersing in a culture of shared learning, and by collaborating with others.

I have a big hairy audacious goal (a BHAG) for businesses around the world. I believe we can “Change the Way the World Does Business” and we can do that by incorporating core values into our business that support collaboration and positive meaningful relationships.  

We are coming up on the 30th anniversary for my company (BNI) and I believe that our focus on these core values, philosophy, and vision are responsible for our 30 years of consecutive growth. Through strong economies and serious recessions – my organization has grown year in and year out for 30 years without exception.  Few organizations can say that.   I think that is a testament to our approach to doing business.

Have you given thought to your organization’s core values? If so, share your company’s core values here. I’d love to hear your comments.

 

 

Promote from Within

In this video, I explain how it can benefit both business owners and employees when business owners promote existing employees from within the company whenever possible as opposed to hiring outside individuals to fill higher positions.

In almost 30 years of running my international networking organization, BNI®, I have largely taken the approach of hiring new employees to fill lower level positions and then promoting them over time to higher and higher positions. To exemplify how this has proven beneficial, I tell the story of an employee I hired over twenty years ago as a receptionist who is now the third highest ranking executive in my company.

I firmly believe that actively looking for opportunities to promote people from within a company not only increases morale within the entire company, it also motivates employees to grow their skills and experience and perform at an increasingly high level.

What is your opinion on promoting from within a company as opposed to hiring from the outside whenever possible?  Do you have a story about an employee or employees you have promoted who have proved to be irreplaceable assets to your business?  I’d love to hear from you so please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Secrets to Success & Business Growth

In January, BNI® (Business Network International), the worldwide referral marketing organization which I founded in 1985, will be celebrating its 30th anniversary.

In light of this, one of the organization’s franchisees incredulously asked me how I’ve managed to consistently keep the company growing each year and how it’s possible that the BNI continues to steadily achieve higher and higher feats of success.

I made this video in answer to this question and in it I outline my secrets to growth and success step by step.  The great thing about what I explain in the video is that you can apply the same business tactics I used to your own business. 

After watching the video, I’d love to hear your thoughts about BNI, the business strategies I discuss, and/or how you are going to use the tactics I outline in your own business.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

To find out more about BNI, please visit www.BNI.com.

Dr. Mark McKergow on Host Leadership

At a recent TLC (Transformational Leadership Council) conference, I had the opportunity to talk to my good friend Dr. Mark McKergow (author of The Solutions Focus) about his new book Host Leadership and the concept of leading with a host mentality.

Host Leadership is all about the art of hosting–bringing people together, getting things moving, inviting the right people, and creating the space for things to happen.  As Mark puts it, anyone who is in a leadership position working with a team, working with customers, working with suppliers, working with outward facing people, etc. can think of themselves as a host and can take on the six roles of engagement for a host leader.

Mark also talks about the difference between servant leadership and host leadership and the forward-and-backward dance at which master host leaders excel.  I highly recommend Mark’s new book because I think it gives networkers an incredible advantage when they approach networking with a host mentality.  Furthermore, it’s a mentality that will transfer over into every area of business and life, allowing you to fully participate in the process of creating positive change.

Mark also has a new online Host Leadership course starting Wednesday November 5th which runs for seven weeks.  You can find out more about that by clicking here.

So, what do you think of the concept of host leadership?  Have you personally acted as a host in aspects of your life, in business, or in a networking environment?  What has your experience been?  Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Trust

Build Trust to Be More Effective

In this video, I speak with Charlie Lawson, networking expert and National Director of BNI® UK & Ireland, to talk about why networking isn’t a “get rich quick” scheme and how, quite to the contrary, it involves building long-term relationships based on trust.

The thing is, networking is more about farming than hunting.  In other words, instead of voraciously chasing people to gain business, you must nurture relationships in order to build trust.  Trust is what makes networks work. When trust is high among members of a network, there’s a wonderful cohesiveness and capacity to help one another generate effective referrals to mutually assist each other’s business growth.

However, when trust is low and relationships are plagued by suspicion, networks collapse and no worthy referrals will be given. If someone likes and trusts you, they are much more likely to give you effective referrals which will help generate more business for you.

Essentially, you must cultivate relationships with different business professionals in order to build confidence. If confidence is gained, trust can then come into play. Once you’ve gained trust, you are more likely to generate business through those relationships.

Do you have any specifically effective ways of building trust with the professionals with whom to network?   If so, please share them in the comment forum below.  If not, make it your goal this week to come up with some ways to do so–you have nothing to lose and a whole lot of trusted, long-term relationships to gain!

Networking Is Not a Short Term Strategy

In this video, I talk to my friend, French networking expert Marc-William Attie, about why networking is not a short term strategy and also why the long term commitment that goes along with networking is well worth your while.

Marc demonstrates the value of putting effort into networking by telling the story of an architect who spent three years building relationships with fellow networkers without receiving any significant referrals and then received a referral worth $300,000.00 . . . a payoff that was definitely worth the wait!

Do you have any stories about how your networking efforts have paid off in big ways?  Is so, please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Do You Have Excessive Helper Genes?

I recently met with several members of my company’s Executive Management Team in Croatia and it was there that I had the opportunity to film this quick video with Frederick Marcoux, a good friend of mine who is also the National Director for BNI in Australia.

Frederick has an interesting concept that he likes to call “Excessive Helper Genes” and in this video, he talks about why this concept is at the very core of networking.  Frederick explains that having Excessive Helper Genes is a key trait in those who excel at networking because they are constantly building trust and goodwill with those in their network.

I really like this concept because networking at its center is built around helping others; if we maintain a focus on helping, we can network absolutely anywhere at any time.

So, do you have Excessive Helper Genes? . . . Do your Excessive Helper Genes perhaps need a boost?  What can you do this week to strengthen your focus on helping others?  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

Using LCDs to Explain & Promote Your Business

When it comes to telling people about what you do, the deeper you go into the specifics the greater your success will be.  In this video, I talk about how to explain and promote your business by breaking it down into its Lowest Common Denominators (LCDs).

Many years ago, I visited a BNI meeting where I witnessed the absolute best presentation I’ve ever heard at a weekly networking meeting and it was given by a florist who focused on the details of a single rose. Watch the video now to hear the story of what the florist did and said that made his presentation so successful and to learn why specificity is key in talking about exactly what it is that you do.  If you belong to a strong contact network where you give weekly presentations, the more specific you can be in explaining the aspects of your business, the greater your results will be.

If you struggle to come up with talking points about your business at your weekly networking meetings, this video is for you.  I offer a simple strategy for pre-planning your presentation topics for an entire year–never again will you have to wing your presentations because you’re not sure how to describe what you do.

So, what aspect of your business are you going to focus on at your next networking meeting?  I’d love to hear about it.  Please share your thoughts in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

 

 

 

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