Conscious Menstring(13) "Conscious Men"

Good friends of mine, Dr. John Gray (the author of Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus) and Arjuna Ardagh, have recently released their newest novel, Conscious Men. This wonderful book highlights me, and the story of BNI, in numerous places throughout, and I’m honored to have been mentioned in their latest work. My “Village People story” and the “story of Bob” are both highlighted in this book.

To get a copy of the book, visit the promotional website here.

Check out this week’s video blog, featuring both John and Arjuna, by clicking on the graphic above, or clicking here.

Open Invitation for the Commonwealth Business Forum 2015string(56) "Open Invitation for the Commonwealth Business Forum 2015"

BNI® directors will ask me to produce short videos for them to circulate in their regions regarding events, members who have reached outstanding milestones, etc., and I often do them happily. I was recently asked to do a short video for the Commonwealth Business Forum, and I just couldn’t help but want to share this event with all of you here.

Since 1997, the Commonwealth Business Forum has been an annual event in Malta. This year from November 24-26, Heads of Government, ministers, top business-leaders from around the world and thousands of delegates will attend the forum in Hilton, St. Julians, Malta, where they can showcase their current investment opportunities, and increase transparency with the global business community.

This event is open to all BNI® members, so I highly encourage anyone in the area to attend at least for part of the forum, if not the entirety. Directly following the forum from November 27-29 will be the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting, which isn’t open to the public, but is worth noting, as it is likely many of the issues discussed during the forum will be revisited during the CHOGM 2015.

If you attend the Commonwealth Business Forum, I would love to hear from you! Be sure to come back here and tell me about your experience in the field below.

5 Ways Your Network Can Promote Youstring(35) "5 Ways Your Network Can Promote You"

I’m currently in Asia doing a number of speaking engagements and yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the BNI Japan National Conference.  Today, I’d like to share with you an excerpt from the speech I gave where I explain the following five ways in which your network can promote you:

  1. Display your literature and products
  2. Make announcements for you about your business
  3. Endorse your products and services
  4. Provide you with referrals
  5. Introduce you to people / arrange meetings on your behalf

5WaysSlide

This is content straight from my book Business by Referral and if you’d like to learn about the additional ten ways your network can promote you (which I share in the book but not in this video), click here for an article I wrote specifically on this topic. 

If you have any favorite tactics which you’ve personally found to be highly effective when it comes to putting your networking circle to work for you, please share them in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

The Greatest Referral of My Lifestring(32) "The Greatest Referral of My Life"

If you’re familiar with BNI, the business networking organization I founded back in the mid ’80s, you may be aware that this year is BNI’s 30th anniversary and we’re honoring it with a celebratory video series.  Today, I’d like to share with you one of the videos from the series which is especially important to me because, in it, I talk about the greatest referral of my lifetime.

Throughout my thirty year career in networking, I’ve been privileged to receive more than a few remarkably noteworthy referrals–and I’ve seen and heard of some truly amazing referrals being passed to others.  However, nothing–and I mean nothing–has come close to being as remarkably noteworthy as this one referral which has changed my life in countless ways for the better and continues to define the center of my life.

After watching the video, I’d love to hear from you about what the greatest referral in your life has been up to this point.  I’m sure you have some amazing stories and I hope you’ll share them in the comment forum below–thanks in advance for your participation!

 

 

‘Full-Calorie’ Networking vs. ‘Networking Light’string(72) "‘Full-Calorie’ Networking vs. ‘Networking Light’"

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

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

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

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

Is Networking Worth It If You Work for Someone Else?string(52) "Is Networking Worth It If You Work for Someone Else?"

Photo courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Photo courtesy of patpitchaya at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Whether you’re self employed or you work for someone else, it is definitely worth your time to start looking for networking groups that can refer you new business.  If you work for someone, take steps to persuade your employer that you will get business by working with these groups.  I’d like to share with you a true story which demonstrates how this can greatly benefit you.

I met a bank manager several years ago who worked hard at persuading his supervisor that participation in a BNI® chapter would yield substantial results for his branch.  The supervisor reluctantly agreed to let him join on a trial basis.  The manager began getting referrals soon after joining.  After several months, another member gave him a particularly good referral–a man who was disgruntled with the level of service at his current bank.  The manager decided to visit the man at his company.  The man told the bank manager that he felt he was not getting personal service from his bank.  The manager assured him that his bank prided itself on service.  He gave the man his personal mobile and home phone numbers and told him that if there were a problem he could be reached any time of day, at home or at work.  The man thanked him for coming to his office and told him he would get back to him.  

Two days later, at 9:00 a.m., the man was standing at the bank door with several savings and checkbooks in hand.  The manager met him at the door and thanked him for coming to the branch.  The man said he was impressed with the way he was handled by the manager and that he had decided to transfer his accounts to the manager’s bank.  To the astonishment of the bank manager, the new customer handed over checking, savings, and money-market accounts totaling over $950,000!  After everything was completed, the man told the manager how glad he was to be referred to him by their mutual friend.

I first heard this story when my office (BNI Headquarters) started getting phone calls from every branch manager in Southern California who worked for that bank.  Each of them wanted information about local chapters of BNI.  When the bank manager who got the $950,000 referral told his supervisor where he got the referral, the supervisor (Remember him?  The reluctant one?) called all his other branch managers and told them to join a local chapter of their own within the next two weeks.

If you work for someone else, the lesson here is to persuade your supervisor.  Not long ago, I spoke to an individual who wanted to join a networking group but was told by his boss that the company wouldn’t pay for it.  This savvy salesman asked his boss, “If I front the money myself and get two referrals that turn into sales within the next thirty days, would the company pay for it then?”  The boss said, “Sure, if you come in with two sales, I’ll see to it that the company pays for the membership.”  Well, guess what?  This salesman, thus highly motivated, closed three sales and was working on four others at the end of the first thirty days.  He told me that his boss “gladly payed for the original membership, and recently paid to renew it.”  Whether you are self-employed or work for someone else, start looking for groups that refer you new business.

Do you have any stories about lucrative referrals you’ve received through joining a networking group?  If so, I’d love to them–please share in the comment forum below.  Thanks!

Has Your Business Mission Changed?string(34) "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!string(48) "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 Organizationstring(119) "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 Allstring(34) "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 Goodstring(47) "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 Withinstring(19) "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!

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