Soft Skills Make Strong Networksstring(32) "Soft Skills Make Strong Networks"

Some of you probably know that I’m not much of a “new age” guy. Yet, as an author and a businessman who started BNI®, which today has 308,000+ members in 77 countries, I believe in the immense power of the Law of Reciprocity. This concept touches upon the deep-rooted psychological urge to do something nice for someone who did something nice for you.

There certainly is value in soft skills. For people like me who understand the value of soft skills but would also like to have some evidence as to why those soft skills work, I can tell you there’s a lot out there to support the Law of Reciprocity, starting with the Nash equilibrium theory (the acronym of which is, ironically, NET).

Nash’s Equilibrium Theory

Basically, Nash’s equilibrium theory states that the best result will come when everyone in the group is doing what is best for both themselves and the group. It is a form of reciprocity, and the optimal outcome of the situation is one where no individual has an incentive to deviate from their chosen strategy after considering the other participants’ choices.

Reciprocal Altruism

Reciprocal altruism is another form of reciprocity. It involves an equitable balance between collective altruism and personal need. Collective altruism looks at the needs of the group but doesn’t give strong consideration to the needs of the individual. Reciprocal altruism attempts to consider both the needs of the group and the needs of the individual.

In early writings by Socrates and Alexis de Tocqueville about ethics and government, the concept of enlightened self-interest was all about reciprocity. Enlightened self-interest is a philosophy which states that people who act to further the interests of others, or interests of the group or groups to which they belong, ultimately serve their own self-interest.
In other words, it is possible to do well, by doing good.

Givers Gain®

In the early days of BNI, I incorporated the use of the term, Givers Gain® from the very beginning. The underlying foundation of this term is predicated on the age-old concept of “what goes around, comes around”. However, it is more complex than that.

Business networking is about relationship building. I have found that the best way to build a relationship with someone quickly is to help them first. If you can help someone — and I don’t mean talking about selling them your product or service, I mean genuinely help them by giving them an introduction, information, or anything that serves their needs, you will begin to establish a professional relationship with them.

Creating a relationship helps build trust, and trust is the cornerstone of effective networking. When you practice Givers Gain often enough, you will be on the road to building a powerful personal network predicated on trust built through helping to serve someone else.

This concept, whatever term you choose to use – Givers Gain or the Law of Reciprocity, serves as a bridge between individuals and a community of people for collaboration of all kinds. It fuels individual and professional growth, along with increased referrals and business.

Benefits of Cooperation

Research has shown that social cooperation is rewarding to our brains. Cooperation increases the frequency of dopamine release within the brain. Interestingly, dopamine decreases without social cooperation. Each of the strategies mentioned above are about cooperation and collaboration, and each can increase dopamine production.

I once received an email from Amruth, a BNI member in India, with a great metaphor for this philosophy. He said words to the effect of: imagine that you have two spoons, a small spoon and a large serving spoon. Which one are we using the most? The small spoon serves only us, but the large spoon allows us to serve others.
The more that we all use the large spoon, the more we will all have plenty for the small spoon. A business networking group using the large spoon for everyone creates amazing success for all.
In the book, The Go Giver, co-written by my friend, Bob Burg, the authors say, “Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.”


Call it Nash’s equilibrium, reciprocal altruism, enlightened self-interest, or Givers Gain – by giving to, and helping others, you feel great. And oh, by the way, it comes back to you, many times over.

I believe that reciprocity is about taking off your bib and putting on your apron. This kind of networking is where individuals enter, and communities emerge.
THAT is how soft skills make strong networks.




Related Posts:

Put On An Apron.

There were a fair number networking groups around when I started BNI in 1985..


Episode 614: Soft Skills Make Strong Networks

Dr. Misner is a firm believer in the power of the Law of Reciprocity…


The Power of One Conversation

The Power of One Conversationstring(29) "The Power of One Conversation"

Sometimes one conversation can create the pebble-in-the-pond dynamic that changes people’s lives. It may be a kind word to someone you know who is feeling overwhelmed or despondent. It may be a helpful gesture to someone you don’t know who needed to feel noticed that day. It can even be an invitation to a business networking event. This is the story of one such invitation.

The Power of One Invitation

A realtor in the U.S. was attending a local Chamber of Commerce mixer where a woman introduced herself and they began talking. At the end of the conversation she said, “I am part of a business networking group and we have breakfast every Wednesday morning. I’d love to invite you to breakfast, would you like to come?” He replied, “Absolutely.” On the following Wednesday he attended the meeting and was very impressed. He felt welcomed when he arrived and was pleasantly surprised with the structured way the meeting was run and with the business referrals that were being passed between the members. After the meeting, he chatted with some of them, and they invited him back for a second visit the following week.

The next week when he returned to the networking group, he found out that there could only be ONE residential realtor in that chapter. The member who was the realtor happened to be someone he knew, and she said to him, “You ought to think about starting your own chapter.” She then gave him the name and contact information of the person who could answer any questions if he wanted to find out more about it.

He called that day and after an hour-long conversation they decided to start a new BNI® chapter. That chapter grew into a group of businesspeople who built deep professional relationships with each other. Along with passing referrals that turn into revenue for each other’s companies, they care about and support each other.

A Culture of Caring

When devastating wildfires went through their community, 900 houses were lost. Several of the chapter members and their families were among those evacuated from their homes. Their fellow BNI members welcomed them into their homes, giving them a place to stay during those fires.

Yes, that one conversation between two attendees of a networking event was very powerful. It brought together dozens of people who created a group with a culture of caring and of welcoming visitors. They’ve passed referrals that have generated hundreds of thousands of dollars in closed business for the members of the group. That one conversation grew into a caring community that goes beyond a weekly chapter meeting. It brought together people who support each other with a Givers Gain® attitude and a genuine desire to help each other succeed.   

Do you have a networking story about one conversation?  I invite you to share it here.

The “What’s In It For Me?” Attitudestring(45) "The “What’s In It For Me?” Attitude"

A few years back, I received an email from someone who read an article I wrote about collaboration and working together. They said, “The type of networking you talk about describes the way things should work, but in the real world most people seem to have an attitude of what’s in it for me.” Then they asked, “How can I prevent wasting my time and efforts on people, only to find that they have this kind of attitude?” 

I thought it was a great question and I gave a short answer – stop hanging out with the wrong kind of people and start actively seeking out the right kind of people. Trust me, I’ve been there and done that when it comes to getting stuck with the wrong people.

To move beyond that and build a network that wants to help YOU (knowing that you also want to help them) you have to recognize that it is a journey, not a destination. Building a strong network for business success is more like a marathon than a sprint. It takes an investment of time to find and get to know those professionals with a Givers Gain® attitude with whom you can build long-term referral relationships.

How to Find Networking Partners

It starts with finding people who have a giving attitude. These are some of the traits of good networking partners:

  • People who sincerely ask how they can help you or what they can offer you before they ask anything from you.
  • Individuals who show that they are willing to create a professional relationship over a period of time, because they understand that they must develop credibility with you before asking for your business or your referrals.
  • People who make the time to go beyond normal business interactions with those whom they want to be able to ask for support in the future.
  • Professionals who understand that networking is more about farming than hunting and show it in their actions. They make the effort to get to know you outside of the business environment whenever possible, knowing that the more of a friendship there is between you, the more expectations you can both have from each other’s networking efforts.
  • People who do what they can to bring business and contacts to you and to their other networking partners. They share pertinent, helpful information with you, and invite you to business meetings that will favorably position you with others you want to meet.
  •  Individuals who give of their time and knowledge to help their referral sources succeed. They gladly celebrate the successes of their networking partners and tell others about them.

You want to find people who understand that it takes time and who are willing to GIVE business in order to get business.

Building Relationships

At its core, business networking is about taking the time to build genuine, trusted relationships. Simply meeting someone and being visible is not enough. Having visibility without building trust won’t get you very far in the long run.

Remember, a network that is a mile wide and an inch deep is not a strong network. You want to create a personal network that is both wide and deep. Building meaningful relationships is the key to making it happen. Meet with people regularly and participate in networking groups where you see the same quality of professionals on a consistent basis. This will help you develop mutually beneficial relationships and screen out the “what’s in it for me?” types.

I think it is also important to have an abundance mind-set in business networking and referral marketing. This happens with an awareness that there is more than enough business to go around. People can sense desperation, and it is NOT referable. Successful networkers choose an abundance mind-set over a scarcity mentality.

As you read these suggestions and look for good networking partners, look at yourself. Do YOU have these traits? Are YOU willing to help others get more business before seeking business for yourself?
Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” ask others what you can do for them.

What are your thoughts? I’d like to hear them in the comment section.

Practice Givers Gain With Those Who Earn Credibility

Practice Givers Gain With Those Who Earn Credibilitystring(52) "Practice Givers Gain With Those Who Earn Credibility"

Imagine living in a world where you spend your work week meeting with highly qualified potential clients; returning calls and emails regarding quality referrals from current customers and other business associates; and having a trusted group of like-minded professionals who are eager to help you succeed. It sounds wonderful, right?

The Three R’s of Networking

Many successful people live in this type of world through the results of their business networking efforts. They know the Three R’s of Networking and invest the time to use them effectively.
Relationships – building a strong foundation with others
Reliability – building credibility with networking partners
Referrals – receiving referrals from your networking group and giving referrals to them

Giving and receiving business referrals in mutually beneficial relationships that are built on trust is what the Givers Gain® philosophy is all about. It’s about helping others, knowing that “what goes around, comes around.”

Giving opportunities to others would be a fine way to spend our days. Is it possible, though, that this giving could go wrong? Yes, we need to be aware that it can.

The VCP Process

When giving referrals, always keep the VCP Process® in mind.
You are in visibility with someone when they know you are and what you do. You are in credibility when they know who you are, what you do, and that you’re good at it. You are in profitability with someone when you are receiving referrals from them on an ongoing reciprocal basis. It takes time to move through the VCP Process.
What’s the lesson here? Practice Givers Gain with those who have earned credibility… lest it become Givers “Pain.”

This is a story about a friend of mine and a referral that turned into a painful experience.
Ryan loved boating with his friends and family during the summer. However, he found it rather “unfun” and time-consuming when it came to winterizing and storing the boat for the winter. He decided that he would gladly pay someone else to do it for him. He asked a good friend and boat dealer whom he recommended for those services. Because the friend was someone that Ryan trusted, he took his advice and hired Simon to winterize his boat. Well, Simon took four times longer than he promised, which meant the engine was not winterized by the first frost of the winter – not a good thing. He also left the boat uncovered in the rain and sleet for five days, soaking the interior. He didn’t return Ryan’s calls, compounding the bad experience.

As the giver of the Simon referral, Ryan’s friend felt terrible, yet Ryan felt that he was unlikely to take any more recommendations from him in the future.

Three Ways to Practice Givers Gain

Here are three ways to practice Givers Gain so that it will not become Givers “Pain.”

  1. Understand the disclaimer: No matter how solid the relationship you have with your referral partner, always let the person you are referring to them know that your experience with them in the past is your best indication of how they will perform in the future. No one expects you to be a fortune teller. They, too, will be surprised if a deal goes poorly if you have shown them all the reasons this person is a good choice. Nonetheless, there are no guarantees in life; we all understand that.
  2. Set the stage: Lean positively on the relationship and give the referral with accountability. If Ryan’s friend had first made a call to Simon and said, “I am going to send you someone who means a lot to me, and I need you to take care of them,“ that call could have changed everything. A personal call should be the minimum. In the example, what if all three of them met at the boat dock to walk through the expectations as a team? Would the referral have had a better outcome? Possibly. Yes, it may sound like a lot of work on the part of the referral giver, but considering how poorly this recommendation went, do you think he wished he would have done this? Absolutely.
  3. Realize that time always proves worth: I have witnessed thousands of visitors attending BNI® networking meetings over the years and am always amazed when I see members pass immediate referrals to first-time guests, and vice versa. I often hear later that some deals went poorly, or someone never followed up. There was no time investment to build credibility and prove reliability with the new acquaintance before giving a referral.

Remember, building relationships that lead to business referrals takes time. Proving yourself over and over, and over again, is the way to earn trust and referrals from your networking partners. Taking the three steps above when giving referrals can help avoid Givers “Pain,” making it a good experience for all.

Beware the Networking Disconnectstring(32) "Beware the Networking Disconnect"

Many people confuse direct selling with networking. They show up at a networking event wanting to make a sale. However, nobody attends a networking event hoping to buy something. In this video, I share a story about the Networking Disconnect.

This video is part of my Master Class from the BNI®  2021 Global Convention.



Networking is NOT Cold Calling

Unfortunately, people still use networking events as a face-to-face cold calling opportunity. They meet someone new and immediately go into sales mode. They want you to do business with them without asking any questions about you, your business, your interests, or your needs. Understandably, the people who have experienced that type of interaction at an event say that they dislike networking.

However, business networking done right can be enjoyable AND profitable. Master networkers know that networking is more about farming than it is about hunting. It is all about developing relationships with other professionals. They know that networking events are about moving through the VCP Process®, not about closing deals. They attend events to increase their visibility or to establish credibility with people they know. Sometimes they meet with a long-time referral partner to continue their profitable business relationship. 

The best way to network is to CONNECT with people. Get to know them. Build a relationship and learn about their business so you can help them get more business. Referral marketing works because of the mutually beneficial relationships built within the Givers Gain® philosophy of helping others.

Talking About YOUstring(17) "Talking About YOU"

To achieve success in business networking, people need to know what you do and how good you are at doing it. In referral marketing groups, you have opportunities to educate your fellow members about your products and services, as well as the way you interact with potential and existing customers. This is very important to building trusted relationships with the people in your network and for building your credibility enough that they will refer others to you.

Even though most experts discuss networking as though it is easy to talk to strangers, I know that some people find it difficult to talk about themselves. Telling others how good of a businessperson you are just doesn’t come naturally to some of us. However, to get the results you want from your business networking efforts, you must get comfortable talking about YOU.

Getting Comfortable

I recently talked with Charlie Lawson, author of the books, “The Unnatural Networker” and “The Unnatural Promoter.” He says that many professionals are great at what they do. They provide amazing products and top-notch services to their satisfied and devoted clients. And yet, as a businessperson, they may feel uncomfortable with self-promotion and would rather completely avoid talking about themselves.

The best way to get comfortable is to have a group of people around you, people with whom you have good relationships, and who want to help you. When you have established deep, trusted relationships with the members of your networking group, and you’ve educated them about your business capabilities, they will begin talking about you with others. They will go out and promote you for you.

Third-Party Endorsement

The third-party endorsement has always been an effective way to promote yourself.
In my first major book, “The World’s Best Known Marketing Secret,” I discuss the fact that people are more likely to talk about you when they’re upset with you than when they are happy with your services. What you need to do is mobilize those people who are satisfied with your business, and train them to talk about you and how to talk about you effectively. That’s when you get those third-party testimonials that are so powerful.

Referral marketing works when you build strong relationships with your referral partners and are comfortable enough to talk about your business skills and strengths with them. When they are confident in your abilities, they will talk about YOU and refer other people – potential clients, to you.

This works both ways; you need to talk about and find referrals for your referral
partners, too. Remember, the Givers Gain® philosophy is based on the age-old adage of “what goes around comes around,” and giving is just as important as gaining.

I’d like to hear your experience with getting comfortable talking about yourself when networking and invite you to share in the comments.

Competing in the New World of Workstring(34) "Competing in the New World of Work"

My friends, Kian Gohan and Keith Ferrazzi, have written a new book and they have given me permission to excerpt it here as a blog. I invite you to read this excerpt from their book, “Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest.”

Beyond large Fortune 1000 enterprises like Domino’s Pizza and NOV, consider how smaller organizations in different industries have also leveraged new technologies to evolve their businesses. Founded in 1985 by Dr. Ivan Misner, BNI is a business referral network for executives, entrepreneurs and small business owners. BNI has over 10,000 chapters and more than 280,000 members worldwide. Every week, BNI chapters meet over breakfast to conduct a standardized networking exercise focused on targeted referrals. Members stand up and have 30 seconds to introduce themselves and their work. After self-introductions, members stand up again and individually offer three specific referrals in their personal networks that might be potential client leads for other chapter members. 

These aren’t just casual referrals. BNI members develop deep social capital with each other, and believe that both parties benefit when they refer their personal social networks to other BNI members. They call this core value “Givers Gain.” And indeed, in 2020 BNI passed 11.5 million referrals to their members, generating over $16 billion worth of business for members. That’s more than twice the GDP of the country of Lichtenstein!

In 2018, Dr. Ivan Misner suggested to the company’s board of directors that he believed the future of face-to-face networking is online, and that unless BNI experimented and adopted new technologies like mixed reality, holographic presence, and video communication channels, BNI would be negatively disrupted in its next decade. He was prescient and foresaw the rise of remote work, even before the pandemic. By March 2020, all 10,000 BNI chapters had pivoted to online networking – a dramatic business shift for an organization with a 3-decade history dedicated to in-person business networking. Fast-forward to mid-2021, and BNI added 500 new chapters during the pandemic year, all of which have only ever met online! Thus confirming Dr. Misner’s belief that every organization needs to adopt new technologies, or be disrupted.

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from Competing in the New World of Work: How Radical Adaptability Separates the Best from the Rest by Keith Ferrazzi, Kian Gohar, and Noel Weyrich. Copyright 2022 Ferrazzi Greenlight Inc. All rights reserved.

You are welcome to leave a comment and share the blog with others.
The book, “Competing in the New World of Work,” is available is here.

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat

You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boatstring(36) "You’re Going to Need a Bigger Boat"

In the 1975 hit movie “Jaws”, Martin Brody, the Police Chief of a small summer resort town in the northeastern United States, utters one of the most quotable lines in film history when he gets his first up-close look at the Great White Shark.  As soon as he sees it, he slowly backs into the wheelhouse and says to Captain Quint, “You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

This is the prototypical ‘Brody Moment’: a shockingly unambiguous realization that the current resources are no longer a viable option to achieve the results you’re looking for. 

I hope to explain how my Brody Moment came about.  However, the most important thing is for you to think about “your” Brody Moment as you read about mine.  Understanding your Brody Moment can help you think about your motivations and move forward successfully with your entrepreneurial endeavors.

My Brody Moment came at the end of 1985 after I had opened 20 chapters of BNI® by accident – without a plan, without even trying. That’s when I realized that I had struck a chord in the business community.

The “Why” for BNI

I was a management consultant in Southern California and I needed referrals for my consulting practice. I needed referrals for my own business, and I hoped that I would be able to refer some of my friends. So, I put together a group where we could start passing business to each other.

I had previously gone to networks that were incredibly mercenary, everyone was trying to sell to me. I went to other groups that were totally social, with happy hour and hors d’oeuvres, but there was no business happening at those events.

I wanted something that had a focus on business without being mercenary and was relational but not transactional; something that wasn’t totally social because I wanted that relationship-building aspect that led to business. Therefore, I created a network that I hoped would satisfy those two considerations. 

I wanted to merge that focus on business with the relational aspect, and the glue that would hold it together is the principal core value of Givers Gain® – the idea that if I help you and you help me, we will all benefit by working together.

That one networking group led to another and another until there were twenty chapters within 12 months! That first year, I was method-acting my way through the process; I was figuring it out as I went. I was young – 28 years old when I started the company, and I really thought most businesses had this figured out. The thing is, nobody had it figured out because we don’t teach business networking in colleges and universities anywhere in the world. What I didn’t expect to find was that everyone has this challenge and that was my Brody Moment.

BNI was an example of necessity being the mother of invention and it helped a lot of businesses. At the end of 1985, I figured out that I “was going to need a bigger boat”. This way of business networking was going to be much larger than I anticipated, so I sat down and created my business plan to scale the company.

A BIG Goal

In June of 1986, I had a goal in mind. I went to the library to gather information on populations. (Remember, at that time there was no such thing as Google.)
After extensive research and many calculations, I felt that BNI could have 10,000 chapters someday.

Shortly after that, I told a friend that I thought there could be 10,000 groups someday. And he said, “10,000?” I replied, “Yeah, I think it’s possible.”
Then he asked me, “And how many groups do you have now?”
I answered, “30.”
He said, “And you think you could have 10,000?”
“Yes, I think it’s possible,” I replied.
To which he said, “It’s good to have goals, Ivan.”

Yes, it was a big goal. And every year, near the end of December, I took time to reflect. I had read the E-Myth by Michael E. Gerber early on and used that as a baseline strategy. I looked at what was working well, and what didn’t work at all.
Each year, I adjusted my plan and revisited the small goals that were all striving toward that one big goal of scaling my company into a global enterprise.

In December 2020, we reached it – BNI had grown to more than 10,000 chapters! And we continue to grow, helping BNI members around the world do business through referral marketing.

As a leader, you’ve probably experienced a few Brody Moments over the course of your career, and you’ve probably got a few more coming. What you do as a result, and how fast you do it, can turn a Brody Moment into a defining moment.

Be Passionate, Not Pushy

Be Passionate, Not Pushystring(24) "Be Passionate, Not Pushy"

Passion and enthusiasm are key components for success in business, as well as for success in business networking. However, passionate people sometimes come across as being pushy, often because they truly believe that what they are offering to someone is really going to be beneficial for them. Their excitement to share the opportunity can be overwhelming, causing others to feel pressured. When people feel pushed or pressured, they are unable to fully hear the message.  

Our Intention

Our intention plays a huge part in how we speak and interact with others. If we don’t believe in the value of what we are offering, or we come from a place of desperation, our words will sound forced or salesy. When we come from a space of love – looking to impact lives, and service – adding value to others, there is more opportunity for the other person to understand our pure intention.

When I started BNI® in 1985, I opened 20 chapters in one year. I did it without any collateral marketing materials and without today’s technology. I did it with ONE sheet of paper and that was the one-page meeting agenda that I personally typed up.

I had one other extremely important thing. In addition to the one sheet of paper, I had passion. I was passionate about spreading the word of referral marketing and passionate about my intention to help more and more people succeed in their business. I was the poster child for “ignorance on fire is better than knowledge on ice!”

Inviting People to Your Networking Meeting

I have seen what happens when someone invites a guest to visit their BNI or other business networking meeting. People are so passionate, that sometimes others may feel it’s pushy, when in fact, the members are genuinely excited about inviting someone to meet their group.

When we are so enthusiastic that we say, “Hey, you have to come to this chapter, you have to come and meet this particular member!” we may go a bit overboard. When we say, “Hey, I would like to introduce you to a person that I think will be a good connection for your business,” the focus is on them. By clearly sharing our intention to connect them to a particular person that is going to benefit their business, our authentic desire to help is more clearly understood.

Speaking Their Language

It is important to meet people where they are. This is especially true when you are marketing or talking with potential customers and clients. They may not be emotionally, mentally, or even financially ready right now for your products or services. However, you can plant a seed for future harvest. This is in line with the philosophy of Givers Gain® – even if the person is not ready now, we leave them in a better place than before we met them. It can be with the benefit of knowledge we shared, or an offer to make a helpful introduction for them.

We can also connect with people on a deeper level when we understand and respect their motivation and their behavioral style. We must first understand our own style, then learn how to identify behavioral styles in others, and most importantly, adapt our approach to those different styles. This allows us to communicate more effectively because we are speaking their language.

Remember, how you communicate is important. When we talk about our business with enthusiasm and energy, backed by our intention to help others, our passion shines through.

Relationships + Referrals = Revenuestring(35) "Relationships + Referrals = Revenue"

Successful business networking is based on developing relationships with the people in our networks. When people get to know, like and trust each other, they are willing to make introductions and referrals to contacts in their other networks. Those referrals can turn into new customers and clients, adding new sales for our business. That is how Relationships + Referrals = Revenue.


To create success and harmony in our lives, it is important to build and maintain our  relationships – in our home, in our work, and in our community.

We get busy with day-to-day life, especially if we are working from home, and sometimes we take our family for granted. Remember to:
      – Be grateful. Tell the people in our homelife how much we appreciate them. Be specific, be sincere, and tell them often.
      – Show gratitude in a way that means something to them. We often treat others the way we like to be treated. Understanding behavior styles and recognizing the preferences of the people in our lives allows us to share our gratitude in a more meaningful way.  

Whether we are an entrepreneur or an employee, we spend a lot of time at work. We have business relationships with our team and co-workers.
Remember to:
      – Say thank you. YOU know how much you appreciate them, let them hear it.
      – Be helpful – ask, “How can I help you?” to create beneficial teamwork.
      – Avoid the “it’s not my job” attitude. Expect that everyone contributes in whatever way is needed to achieve success for all.

We are part of the community that we live in, whether it is small or large. Our community pulls together when times get tough and celebrates together when things go well.
Remember to:
      – Get involved with a service organization or a service project in your community.
      – Commit to regular attendance and participation with the groups you are part of.
      – Contribute your time, treasure, or talent to help others.


We know that it takes time for others to have the confidence in us to get referrals from our network. When we have invested the time to establish strong relationships, and have given referrals to our networking partners, we move from visibility to credibility in the VCP Process®.  Remember to:
      – Actively listen and look for potential referrals for members of your network.
      – Follow up with networking partners to learn how the referrals you gave turned out.
      – Thank your referral partners for connecting with and taking care of the people you referred to them.


We can only move to the “P” in the VCP Process – Profitability, after we have obtained credibility with our referral partners. This is after we have built strong and deep relationships, asked others how we can help them, and given referrals to them. That is when we begin to receive referrals for our business, and the revenue comes naturally as a result. Those referrals may come directly from people we gave referrals to, however, they often come from other indirect sources. When we give to others, in our home, our work, our community, it comes back to us in a variety of ways.

In BNI, we call this Givers Gain® and it is our principal Core Value. It is based on the age-old concept of what goes around comes around. Our relationships bring us referrals, which lead to revenue. When you help others, and they help you, everyone does better.

Networking Groups: Who Is Responsible?string(38) "Networking Groups: Who Is Responsible?"

I would like to share a story with you.

Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody

 This is a little story about four people named
Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.

There was an important job to be done and
Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.

Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.

Somebody got angry about that because it was
Everybody’s job.

Everybody thought that Anybody could do it, but
Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.

It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when
Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

So the question is: When it comes to networking groups, who is responsible?

Who is responsible for growth of the group, the level of professionalism, for making the meetings positive and fun? Who is responsible for bringing visitors, creating a welcoming atmosphere, and for mentoring new members?

Equal Responsibility

When we are part of a group or a team, we all share equal responsibility for the success of that group. This is true in our household, our workplace, our recreational teams, our charitable organizations, and our business networking groups.

The privilege of membership includes the responsibility of participation. Successful networking groups thrive because each member contributes to the overall success, enabling them to reap a part of the rewards.

The responsibility of participation includes:

– Attending all the meetings, arriving on time, and staying until the end.

– Consistently inviting and bringing visitors and potential members.

– Getting to know fellow members and building mutually beneficial business relationships.

– Actively seeking referrals to business opportunities for fellow members.

– Following the established guidelines and processes for the networking group.

– Serving in leadership, mentorship, and support roles for the benefit of the group.

– Sharing a positive attitude with a focus on solutions rather than problems.

When each person in a networking group accepts the responsibility of their membership and contributes with an attitude of Givers Gain®, they ALL share the rewards.

There will always be challenging times – in life and in business. Our network can help us navigate those challenges with support and friendship.

Remember, EVERYBODY is responsible for their networking group’s success.

Givers Gain

Applying Givers Gain in Businessstring(32) "Applying Givers Gain in Business"

Givers Gain is not only a great way to get business; it’s an even better way to do business.  This is why BNI has made it our principle core value in our networking organization.

Giving has many cultural and legal differences around the world. In some cultures, giving is seen negatively, yet it is a positive force in society, and that this can be applied in every business regardless of location or culture.

The Philosophy of Givers Gain

What is important in acts of giving is our motivation. Here is a list of motivations that fits with the philosophy of Givers Gain® and helps us maintain mental clarity around our motivations when we give.

  1. We give because we understand that in a community, what we do, others will do, and we all benefit.
  2. We give because we know that in the same situation others would do the same for us.
  3. We give because we want to give back where we have profited before.
  4. We give because when we work together, we get bigger and better results than working on our own.
  5. We give because we enjoy it.

Having ethical motivation is key to giving. You can always give once and justify your motivation, but giving over and over again requires a motivation that is understood not only by you but also by the people you surround yourself with. Adopting one or more of the motivations above will help you stay grounded to your motivation.

Here are some examples of where giving in business changed lives.

Allen. is a commercial real estate agent in Orange County, California, USA.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, Allen had met with as many businesspeople as he possibly could, using his network to find these people and to book a meeting with them. They were not just from his local BNI group but were members throughout the county. The more people he met, the more he was able to become a super-connector for the local business community. He was generating a ton of business for the local economy simply by making connections and giving the gift of a referral.

He even won awards for it and became the star of his group. He was recognized as having the most one-to-ones, and he also gave out the most referrals. Allen focused on building relationships and once he was convinced he had found a good business opportunity for both of his contacts he would often phone the contact on the spot and put them together, thus creating a powerful introduction much more likely to lead to business.

When asked how all of this activity had affected his business at a bad time for real estate, he said, “I am completing the best year in my 26 years in the business. I have had a great, great year.”

Giving in business, as in life, works in many different ways. Here is another example.

David runs a fantastic print business. He offers a brilliant service, great value, and delivers when he says he will, if not before. If you ever try to pay him a compliment, he’ll offer a sheepish smile and an explanation that he was only “doing his job.”

Just up the road from where his business is based in the area’s largest independent hotel, which, of course, he is a trusted supplier for. After turning around an order on a particularly short deadline, the hotel manager, showing the gratitude effect, offered David a meal for two at the hotel’s restaurant as a way of saying thank you.

David thanked his client, graciously declined the offer, and instead asked for something else—for them to take the call of one of his other clients, a commercial designer, and project manager named Suzanne. Suzanne had recently asked for help and David, being a supplier of hers, decided to use this opportunity to get her the introduction that her business needed.

The introduction was made, business was done, and both of David’s clients were happy.

In the true spirit of giving, the additional revenue has allowed Suzanne to take on larger development projects, which David now prints for. The local sub-contractors who are used on these projects have increased revenue and now come to David when they are in need of his products and, due to the quality of his work and products, they become ambassadors and referrers for his business.

David is selfless, humble, and a wonderful networker because he embraces the principles of Givers Gain. The cycle of giving continues to benefit him and those around him.

Acts of giving change lives.

Acts of giving can be powerful in business regardless of the size.  We can give many things. Here is a list of the types of giving that makes a real impact in a business community.

  1. Give a referral opportunity between two other businesses you know—maybe a supplier of yours and a client of yours.
  2. Give mentoring to a business that needs your expertise.
  3. Give your knowledge to local business groups.
  4. Give to local education and youth community groups.
  5. Give to the elders of the community.

All of this giving activity is part of an ecosystem that will come back and benefit you and those you care about in a positive way. You choose how to practice Givers Gain that is right for your business. Once you make a commitment to using the power of Givers Gain to fuel your business, success will follow.

The more Givers Gain happens then the more energy can be given to important global social concerns such as climate change and sustainability of our planet. Infinite giving allows us to focus on the bigger picture. The bigger picture is living in a world of plenty where resources are plentiful, and the struggle of life is not against each other. Rather, it is against suffering and scarcity.

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